Jhapa police have arrested Narayan Bista, a canteen owner, in connection with 32 students who fell ill after taking midday meal in Kakadvitta in Jhapa district on Thursday.
Thirty two students became sick after eating lunch provided by local Kakadvitta Secondary School for free. The meal was prepared by Bista, who runs a canteen for the school. Twenty six of the sick students were admitted to Mechi Hospital, Bhadrapur, said school teacher Shubhadra Aryal.
The ill students suffered from food poisoning, said doctors involved in their treatment. Bista has been arrested for investigations, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Gyan Kumar Mahato. “We have interrogated the canteen owner. The meal was cooked early on Thursday morning and served afternoon. The food items became toxic due to increasing temperature. Negligence on the part of the canteen owner is found,” he said.
The school has been providing free day meal to its students as part of the government’s campaign to provide free lunch to students. Drinking water served to students on that day was also contaminated according to complaints, said DSP Mahato. “Complaints have it that worms were found in the water served to the students. We have launched investigations into the matter as well,” he said.
Acting head teacher of the school, Hari Prasad Neupane said the school would launch investigations into the matter. “We provided free meals to the students. The lunch was leftover food according to complaints. We will investigate,” he said.
Following this incident, the canteen has shut and samples of food items served by the canteen were sent to the concerned sector for a quality check, said chairperson of the school management committee, Bhawani Kerung.
The parents have accused the school administration of negligence on the case. Repeated calls to the school management to check food quality served by the canteen went unheard, they complained.