Lifestyle & Belief

India: Meena Devi, principal of school that served poisoned lunch, is arrested


Indian schoolchildren eat food served as part of The 'Mid Day Meal' scheme at a Government Primary School in Hyderabad on June 23, 2010. The scheme is the popular name for the school meals programme in India. It involves provision of lunch free of cost to schoolchildren on all working days. The key objectives of the programme are: protecting children from classroom hunger, increasing school enrolment and attendance, improved socialisation among children belonging to all castes, addressing malnutrition, and social empowerment through provision of employment to women.



Meena Devi, also known as Meena Kumari, the principal of a school in India where 23 children died after eating a lunch contaminated by pesticide, has been arrested.

“She is now being interrogated in the Chhapra police station and will appear before a magistrate tomorrow,” Abhijit Sinha, the district magistrate in Chhapra, said late Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Devi faces charges of murder and conspiracy.

More from GlobalPost: India school lunch deaths: pesticide found in cooking oil

Devi disappeared nine days ago, when students at her primary school in the village of Dharmasati Gandawa in Bihar began vomiting after eating a meal the school provided. The school cook also fell ill, so there were no adults present to help the children, the New York Times reported.

Some 24 children and the cook remain in the hospital.

Tests have detected high concentrations of pesticide in the cooking oil used to prepare the meal. Devi purchased the cooking oil from a store owned by her husband, and one theory is that it may have been stored in a container previously filled with pesticide.

Devi’s husband also disappeared after the incident and is still missing.

Bihar's chief minister and top elected official, Nitish Kumar, said the government was determined to punish those responsible for the poisoning, CBS News reported. "No one will be spared," Kumar said.