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23 Feb 2017

Child falls in boiling water at school kitchen, dies... rush for Midday meal costs life

Ramashankar, TT, Patna, Feb. 22: A six-year-old girl died today after falling into a large pot filled with boiling water at a government school in West Champaran district, around 210km northwest of Patna, yesterday.
Shubham Kumari, a Class I student of the upgraded government middle school at Bhitiharwa Ashram of the district, slipped and fell into the pot - that had boiling water left over after cooking rice - in the school kitchen around 12.30pm yesterday. The half-an-hour lunch break had just started, and the girl had rushed to the kitchen to get her plate on which she would be served the midday meal.
Around 300 children study at the school that has students up to Class VIII, and there are about 10 teachers.
Shubham's father, Shatrughan Ram, said she suffered serious burn injuries and was rushed to the local primary health centre from where she was referred to AJK Hospital in Bettiah, the district headquarters town. She died during treatment early this morning.
Ram, a Dalit daily wage worker, alleged negligence on the part of the acting principal of the school and the cook and lodged an FIR against the two with the Gaunaha police station today.
The acting principal has been removed from the school, said Vishwanath Sah, the West Champaran district education officer.
"Action against the cook will also be initiated," he said, adding that lapses in the midday meal scheme would not be tolerated.
Gaunaha police station house officer (SHO) Ranvir Kumar Jha said raids had been launched to apprehend the acting head-master and the cook, who were prima facie responsible for the girl's death.
The SHO said the girl had received over 60 per cent burn injuries. Her body was handed over to the family after post-mortem examination.
As news about the girl's death spread, residents blocked the Bhitiharwa-Narkatiaganj road and disrupted traffic for about two hours. The protesters demanded immediate arrest of the accused and adequate compensation and a job to the girl's family.
Later today, chief minister announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to the family and ordered a probe - by a joint team of senior police and administrative officials of the district - into the death. The guilty would not be spared, Nitish said.
Gaunaha block education officer Vijay Kumar Verma said: "I have already submitted a report on the matter to the district education officer, recommending disciplinary action."
West Champaran district magistrate Lokesh Kumar Singh said Narkatiaganj sub-divisional officer Arvind Mandal had been asked to conduct a detailed investigation into the incident and submit a report at the earliest.
"Action will be taken on the accused on the basis of the findings of the report submitted by the sub-divisional officer," he added.
When 23 children had died after eating the midday meal at Dharmasati Gandaman primary school in Saran district on July 16, 2013, the principal Mina Devi was held guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

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