Patna: Under attack from the Opposition over the death of 22 school children after consumption of mid-day meal at Saran, the Bihar government said it suspected a conspiracy behind the tragedy.
    
"The deaths were not due to food poisoning but it's a clear case of mixing poison in food," state Education Minister PK Shahi told reporters.
    
He said doctors attending the students at Chhapra sadar hospital have reported that the children had died due to the presence of poisonous organic phosphorous in the food.
    
"From where did this organic phosphorous come in the food given to students as part of the mid-day meal scheme?" Shahi asked and told the police to investigate the matter.
    
The Minister hinted at the involvement of opposition RJD in the tragedy though he did not make any direct reference.
    
"Arjun Rai, the husband of the school headmistress, had supplied the food material for the mid-day meal. He is an active member of a party and cousin of local leader Dhruv Rai of Mashrakh, who is close to a prominent leader of a party (RJD)," he said.
    
“Rai owns the grocery shop from where the materials were taken by the school headmistress Meena Devi for the mid-day meal scheme,” Shahi added.

Shahi said a student had told the media that the headmistress had forced them to finish the meal when they expressed reluctance to eat it because of its pungent taste.
    
Besides, a cook had said she had complained to the headmistress about the oil given to her for cooking the meal but she told her it was fresh and asked her to use it.

(Agencies)

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