Around 12 students of a school in Tamil Nadu fell ill after eating food in a suspected case of food poisoning even as the cook claimed it was a conspiracy to throw her out. The school is mired in controversy over the appointment of a Dalit woman who was posted as a cook there.
The students of Thirumalaigoundanmpalayam government school in Tamil Nadu's Tiruppur district, around 490 kilometres away from Chennai, were hospitalised on Tuesday as they complained of vomiting after taking the afternoon meal cooked by her, police said.
Parents of the children alleged a dead lizard was found in the food, following which the school headmistress Sasikala lodged a complaint of negligence of duty against P Pappal, the cook.
However, Ms Pappal said she and her daughter had also taken the food and claimed that the allegation of food poisoning was part of a conspiracy to remove her from the school, police said.
The incident comes a day after Ms Pappal's husband had petitioned the district administration in Tiruppur seeking police protection over concerns of his family's safety.
Ms Pappal was transferred to another school last month after the parents of children of Gounder community had opposed to her posting as the cook at the school and exerted pressure on the authorities concerned to shift her.
However, after the matter reached higher officials, she was reinstated at the school and cases were registered against 87 people in connection with the incident.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has also taken cognisance of the matter and sought explanation on the 'humiliation' meted out to the Dalit woman.
Apart from Chief Educational Officer S Shanthi, senior district, health and police officials carried out an inquiry into the suspected food poisoning, police said adding further investigation was on.