Bihar's Education Minister PK Shahi addressed the media after 21 children died after having a mid-day meal in their school near Chhapra. Here are the highlights from the press conference:
- The response was quick. The children were brought to Chhapra sadar hospital. They were given proper treatment.
- 3 children are still critical. But doctors believe they will recover. The cook is stable.
- Adequate arrangements were made in Chhapra. I went there and got those critical to Patna.
- The children were poisoned. Doctors say there was organic phosphorus in the mid-day meal
- Excess of organic phosphorus is poison
- School principal Meena Kumari's husband is very close to a prominent political leader
- Cook also ate the food but she survived. The children had complained about the vegetable
- The cook had expressed doubts about quality of oil used in the vegetable, was asked to use it by the headmistress
- It may have been an attempt to destabilize, we can't be sure it wasn't
- Whatever I have said is based on initial reports, forensic reports are yet to come
- Headmistress has been sacked. She and her family members are missing. Reports suggest she didn't eat the vegetable.
- Govt can't interfere in the probe. Police must see how the food was poisoned. Was it a conspiracy or was it inadvertent?
- It is a big challenge to provide quality mid-day meals to children in 73,000 schools in Bihar