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Bihar school principal held for food poisoning deaths

Bihar school principal held for food poisoning deaths

Patna: The principal of a government primary school in Bihar where 23 children died after eating contaminated food last week was arrested Wednesday, police said.

Superintendent of Police Sujit Kumar told IANS over telephone that Meena Devi, the principal of the school at Gandaman village in Saran district, was arrested by the Special Investigation Team.

"She has been arrested and interrogated," he said.

A first information report has been registered against her on penal charges of murder and criminal conspiracy, police said.

Earlier Wednesday, she filed an application for anticipatory bail before the district's chief judicial magistrate (CJM).

After filing the application, her lawyer said the plea was likely to come up for hearing the next day. But with her arrest it may prove to be a futile exercise.

Police also filed a petition in the court to attach Meena Devi's property after obtaining her arrest warrant July 22.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court of CJM Narendra Mohan Jha declared Meena Devi a proclaimed offender.

Meena Devi, who was suspended from service for gross negligence, was evading arrest from the day of the incident July 16, police said.

Police raided her house twice and recovered a bottle of pesticide traces of which were suspected to be present in the school food.

According to district officials, Meena Devi had forced the cook to use an allegedly contaminated cooking oil despite the latter's complaint that it had a pungent smell.

A forensic lab report Saturday confirmed presence of toxic insecticide traces in the cooking oil used for making food at the school.

The poisonous substance, organophosphorus, in oil samples collected from school was more than five times the commercial preparation available in market, police said.

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