Killer food at Kapurthala shelter: Officer suspended, cook under probe

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kapurthala
  • Updated: Aug 04, 2016 10:50 IST
Inmates of Sukhjit Ashram at a hospital on Wednesday after they fell ill upon eating some food at the shelter for the mentally challenged on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

A day after food poisoning at state-run shelter Sukhjit Ashram here killed two mentally challenged teenagers, the Punjab government suspended district social security officer (DSSO) Gulbarg Lal and started departmental inquiry against attendant-cum-cook Veena Rani.

Confirming the action, Punjab director of social security and women’s and child development Gurloveleen Singh Sidhu said on Wednesday that gross negligence of the two had come to light in preliminary investigation. The government sent Sidhu over on Tuesday after two deaths. It also appointed a permanent superintendent, Kiratpreet Kaur, at the home after more than two years. Jalandhar DSSO Dalwinder Singh gets the additional charge of Kapurthala’s social security department.

No windows and (below) lack of maintenance at the toilets of Sukhjit Ashram in Kapurthala on Tuesday. (Sikander Singh Chopra/HT Photos)

Even the board has not been put up properly, indicating the lack of apathy at the institute, formally known as Home for Mentally Retarded Children, Kapurthala. (Sikander Singh Chopra/HT Photos )

The Kapurthala district administration runs this shelter. “Subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Mandeep Kaur says in her initial inquiry report that donated cooked food was served to 34 inmates on Sunday night without donor’s verification and 31 of them are in hospital since Monday morning,” said Sidhu. “Donated food is prohibited at the home. The ashram has no record of the visitors who brought it.”

Eating this food killed a boy, Chhotu (14), on Monday, while a girl, Jyoti Rani (16), died at the civil hospital on Tuesday.

The condition of inmates Pooja (11), Jyoti (22), and Jaspreet Kaur (23) is critical. “The action against the DSSO is also because of poor housekeeping,” said deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh.

Bodies unclaimed

The parents and guardians of differently-abled children have abandoned them even in death. The district administration had to cremate Kapurthala shelter food poisoning victims Chhotu and Jyoti Rani on Tuesday. Jyoti’s aunt (father’s sister), Surinder Kaur of Dhilwan, who had adopted the orphan girl and left her at Sukhjit Ashram in November 2014, refused to attend her funeral.

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