Odisha school student laces water with poison to get the school shut down
- Two boarders of a hostel in Kamagaon higher secondary school in Bhatli block of Bargarh district complained of nausea and vomiting after they drank water from a plastic bottle kept in the room of one of the students.
Around 20 students of a higher secondary school in western Odisha had a miraculous escape after one of their classmates made them drink water laced with an insecticide to force school authorities shut down the institution.
On Wednesday afternoon, two boarders of a hostel in Kamagaon higher secondary school in Bhatli block of Bargarh district complained of nausea and vomiting after they drank water from a plastic bottle kept in the room of one of the students. Over next couple of hours, 18 more boarders, all students of Std 11 in the school, had complaints of vomiting and nausea, after they took sip from the same bottle, forcing the authorities to admit them in a local hospital.
Doctors who treated the students said all the students are out of danger, but would be under medical observation till Sunday afternoon. "As it was a case of insecticide poisoning, we had to make them undergo gastric lavage to cleanse their upper intestinal tract of any remnants of poison so that it does not get absorbed during digestion. As the students had drank the water laced with insecticide there was a great risk of the same being absorbed by the body during digestion. Luckily, all the students are out of danger," said Dr Arun Kumar Patra, chief district medical officer of Bargarh.
The school authorities who did a quick investigation found that a 16-year-old student of Arts stream in Class 11 and staying in the boy's hostel, had laced the water with some insecticide that is used in gardens.
"The student had visited his home on December 4 and came back to hostel on December 6. But he again wanted to go back to his home and was hoping that the government would announce a lockdown over rising Covid cases due to the advent of Omicron variant. He became hopeful when he saw some social media posts which said a lockdown was imminent on December 19 due to Omicron variant. However, he was disappointed when I put up a message of a police official in our college WhatsApp group which clearly said such social media posts were hoax. He then told some of his friends that he would somehow get the college shut down," said Premananda Patel, principal of the school.
On Wednesday, the student reportedly laced a water bottle with the poison and made everyone drink from the same bottle. While some students threw up as they found the water bitter, many others sipped from it.
The principal said the student who had laced the water with poison, faked sipping from the same bottle. "He even faked a headache so as not to arouse suspicion. However, when the doctor at Bargarh district headquarter hospital referred him to a medical college and hospital in neighbouring Sambalpur district apprehending that he may have consumed a larger amount, he slinked away to his home 48 km away. After some inquiries with the affected students we found out the student had conspired to get the school shut down for some time so that he could visit his home," said the principal.
After the news spread, parents of the affected students met the principal demanding action on the issue. A meeting was called on Thursday in which the student's father, a farmer, and officials like local BDO, sub-collector and local sarpanch were called. During the meeting the student in the eye of the controversy, admitted to have laced the water with poison so as to get the classes suspended for some days.
School authorities said that though the parents of the affected students were adamant over lodging FIR against the student, a decision was taken to rusticate him from the school. "Had FIR been lodged against him he would have been arrested thus adversely affecting his future. As he is a minor, a lesser punishment is being meted out to him by rusticating him," said the principal.
The physical classes for Std 11 in Odisha resumed on October 21 amid Covid guidelines. However, the school and mass education department has said physical classes are not compulsory and students can attend the classes from their homes through online. The school principal said the student could have stayed home and attended classes through online mode if he did not want to come to school.
The parents of the student could not be reached for comment. A couple of parents whose children are admitted in hospital, said they would not comment on the incident.
"I have never seen such behaviour from any student in our school in the past. Over last several years, students of our school have excelled in academics with nearly 100 per cent passout rate and around 70 per cent getting first classes. I hope the parents of the students counsel him well so that he does not repeat such things in future," said Arabinda Das, a teacher of the school.