Principal In Indian Lunch Poisoning Tragedy Is Arrested

Jul 24, 2013

More than a week after 23 children in India died after eating an insecticide-laced lunch, the principal in charge of the school's mid-day meal program has been arrested.

The New York Times reports that Meena Kumari, who fled when the children started getting sick, had become one of the most wanted fugitives in India. She was on her way to surrender, when authorities detained her.

The Times adds:

"Forensic tests have confirmed that the cooking oil used to prepare the meal of rice, beans, potato curry and soy balls was contaminated with pesticide. Ms. Kumari bought the cooking oil from a store owned by her husband, who might have stored the cooking oil in a container once filled with pesticide, the police said.

"Since the only other adult at the school was the school's cook, who also fell deathly ill, Ms. Kumari's departure meant that the ailing children were left to fend for themselves, according to villagers and state officials. Some staggered home to die in the arms of their parents."

The Hindu reportsthat Kumari has been charged with murder and criminal conspiracy.

The Washington Post reports that since the incident the Indian government has promised improvements to the village. Also: "More than 300,000 primary school teachers in Bihar have called for a boycott of the midday-meal program to begin Thursday, saying they should be engaged only in teaching activities."

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