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    “School Food Poisoning in Sangrur: Principal Suspended, Contractor Arrested Amid Safety Concerns”


    School Food Poisoning Incident in Sangrur: Principal Suspended, Contractor Arrested

    A distressing incident unfolded at the Government Meritorious School in Ghabdan, Sangrur, where 74 students were hospitalized following suspected food poisoning. The incident prompted the suspension of the school’s principal and the subsequent arrest of the mess contractor and manager, accused of negligence resulting in the students’ illness.

    The principal’s suspension and arrests occurred after the affected students were rushed to the Sangrur civil hospital and a PGIMER satellite center, complaining of restlessness and vomiting. Subsequent investigations revealed that the symptoms originated from a meal served in the hostel mess the previous night.

    Maninder Singh Vohra, the contractor in charge of the mess and owner of a prominent Muktsar-based hotel, and Parminder Singh, the mess manager from Phaguwal village, face charges of attempted murder. The suspension of the accused contractor’s mess contract spans across five other meritorious schools in Bathinda, Amritsar, Jalandhar, and Ludhiana.

    Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains ordered the collection of food samples from nine additional meritorious schools in the state following the Sangrur incident. With a total of 10 such schools in Punjab, this measure aims to preemptively address any potential food safety issues.

    Alarmingly, reports surfaced that students had been voicing concerns about the food quality for nearly 20 days prior to the incident. However, these complaints allegedly went unheeded, with no proactive steps taken. Complaints cited issues such as the presence of worms and steel wool remnants in the food, prompting students to refuse meals.

    Notably, Principal Manish Kumar Sharma faced suspension due to alleged inaction regarding students’ complaints about subpar food quality. The district education department, seemingly uninformed about the students’ hospitalization, faced criticism for inadequate oversight.

    In response, Deputy Commissioner Jitendra Jorwal initiated a comprehensive investigation through a four-member committee led by Sangrur SDM Charanjot Singh Walia. This committee aims to thoroughly investigate the incident and submit its report within a week. Additionally, medical staff and ambulances have been deployed at the school as a precautionary measure.

    Minister Bains, after meeting with the affected students, pledged monthly student feedback sessions to avert future incidents. Feedback forms will enable students to voice concerns, and appropriate actions will follow complaints. The minister assured stringent action against the suspended mess contractor once the investigation concludes.

    The incident underscores the critical need for vigilant oversight in ensuring the safety and quality of food served in educational institutions, highlighting the imperative of immediate and effective responses to student concerns to prevent such alarming episodes.

    Sources By Agencies

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