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Mid-day meal horror: 'My son is better illiterate than dead'

July 17, 2013 20:13 IST

Mid-day meal horror: 'My son is better illiterate than dead'

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M I Khan

Inconsolable families of the 22 children, who died after they were fed a meal in school, blame greedy teachers and officials for the disaster, reports M I Khan

Bihar’s Dahrmasati Gandawan village was drowned in grief on Wednesday after it buried 22 children, who lost their lives after they were served free lunch in school, part of the government’s mid-day meal scheme. 

No food was cooked in the any house in devastated Dahrmasati Gandawan on Wednesday. Hundreds of people from neighbouring villages joined them in the mourning.

“No one in the village has cooked food since Tuesday night. All of us are shocked and fail to understand how this tragedy struck us suddenly. It is beyond our imagination,” said Ramanand Rai, whose daughter Kajal Kumari breathed her last in hospital on Tuesday night.

Rai said that all his hopes were pinned on his daughter. “I was sure she would make me proud.”

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Image: A woman cries after her grandson, who consumed a meal at school on Tuesday, died at a hospital in Patna
Photographs: Reuters

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'Both our sons are dead, we have no joy left'

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Most of the villagers blame the mid-day meal scheme for the deaths. "The potato-soyabean curry (that was served that day) is the real killer," they said.

Harendra Mishra and his wife, who lost both their sons -- Rahul Kumar and Prahlad -- were inconsolable. “It is the end of our dream. There is no joy left after two of my sons were snatched by the poisonous mid-day meal,” said Mishra.

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Image: Asha Devi sits next to her sick daughter Savita, at a hospital in Patna
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

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'Teachers should be punished for murder of our children'

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Another villager Shankar Thakur is in a state of shock. “I will never get to speak to my daughter. The sheer negligence and greediness of officials and teachers cost us dearly. They should be punished for the murder of our children,” he said.

Ram Prakash, who lives near the school, recalled,  “All the children were happily playing after Tuesday's lunch. After a while some of them stopped and complained of pain in stomach and started vomiting,” he said.

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Image: Women sit next to their children, who were hospitalised after consuming the meal at school
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

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'Won't send my son back to school'

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Sanju Devi, mother of a student, who recovered after falling ill, said that she will not allow her son to go back to school. “There is no question of eating the mid-day meal. I will not take any chance after Tuesday’s disaster,” she added.

And she was not alone. Over a dozen mothers said that they would prefer that their children stayed at home.

“It is better that my son remains illiterate than dead,” added Manju Devi.


Image: A man holds his sick child on thier way to the hospital in Patna
Photographs: Reuters

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