Forensic test confirms pesticide in meal

NatAn affected schoolchild at Patna Medical College Hospital.

The Forensic Science Laboratory report on Saturday confirmed the presence of monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound used in pesticides, in the food samples taken from the midday meal which killed 22 children at the government primary school in Chhapra on Tuesday. The post-mortem reports had also pointed to the presence of an organophosphorus pesticide.

Arjun Yadav, husband of the school principal, Mina Devi, is reported to have used the same type of pesticide in his sugarcane field about a fortnight back. In fact, the pesticide even contaminated the pond adjoining the field, causing the death of some fish. The village elders had then instructed Yadav to burn the fish, fearing that some children may take it home.

"Forensic experts have found the presence of monocrotophos in two oil containers and in the rice-soyabean food samples," confirmed Additional Director General of Police Ravindra Kumar, adding that the toxicity was found to be five times higher than the normal pesticide samples.

Both Yadav and Mina Devi are absconding since the tragedy. While a criminal case has been filed against the principal, her husband has not been charged yet. A joint report of the Saran commissioner and deputy inspector general of police has also indicted the principal.

"A criminal case has been lodged against Mina Devi. Questioning of her husband and other family members can throw more light on the case," said Bihar DGP Abhayanand.

Commonly used organophosphates include parathion, malathion, methyl parathion and diazinon. Of these, malathion is widely used in agriculture.

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