Sixteen children have died in Bihar, allegedly as a result of food-poisoning from the free mid-day meal provided at their school near Chhapra in the central part of the state, 60 kms from the state capital Patna. Most of them who died were younger than 10.
Another 35 children have been admitted to the Patna Medical College Hospital.
The mid-day meal caused severe food poisoning, said sources. Several hundred people surrounded the local police station this evening demanding action against the school.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry and announced compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of the children who died.
Chhapra is the Lok Sabha constituency of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who said, "This is happening everywhere in Bihar. I will see who is responsible for this."
The opposition BJP , which was dumped recently by the chief minister after a 17-year partnership, was quick to politicize the tragedy. "Such incidents did not happen even during Lalu Prasad's government," said BJP leader Giriraj Singh.