India

India school deaths principal jailed in Bihar state

In all, 47 primary school children had fallen ill after consuming the meal of rice and soybeans Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In all, 47 primary school children had fallen ill after consuming the meal of rice and soybeans

A school principal in India's eastern Bihar state has been sentenced to 17 years in prison in connection with the death of 23 children.

A court in Saran district found Mina Devi guilty of "criminal negligence and culpable homicide" for serving tainted meals to students in 2013.

A chemical used in pesticides was found to be the cause of contamination.

The free Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to tackle hunger and boost attendance in schools, but suffers from poor hygiene.

A police inquiry found that the principal had repeatedly ignored warnings that the oil used to cook the meal was contaminated.

In all, 47 primary school children had fallen ill after consuming the meal of rice and soybeans in the village of Dharmasati Gandaman in Saran on n 16 July, 2013.

Twenty-three were confirmed dead a day later.

Angry parents and villagers buried three children inside the school campus as a reminder of this tragedy.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption At least 23 children died in the tragedy

Bihar is one of India's poorest and most populous states.

The Mid-Day Meal is the world's largest school feeding programme, reaching 120 million children in 1.2 million schools across the country, according to the government.

It was first introduced for poor and disadvantaged children in the southern city of Chennai (Madras) in 1925.

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