BATALA – A toddler aged one and half years has died while more than 25 were taken ill after they partook of ‘prasad’ from Gurdwara Teg Bahadur at Guru Nanak Nagar here on Wednesday evening.
Police said the children, all between five and 10 years, started feeling restless and showed signs of acute food poisoning and one of them, Baljeet Singh, started vomiting after eating the ‘deg’ or ‘halwa’. He died on the way to a hospital.
The incident created panic in the area and children were rushed to the civil hospital where the condition of 28 of them was stated to be stable. One of them, Rajveer Singh, did not respond to treatment and was referred to a hospital in Amritsar.
Following the incident, Batala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Deepak Hilori ordered the Civil Lines police to detain Granthi Paramjit Singh. The SSP said the closed-circuit television footage showed that at 6.23pm on Wednesday, the granthi mixed some powder into the ‘prasad’ which was later given to the children. “It is learnt that the Granthi was not in good terms with the Gurdwara management committee,” the SSP said.
On the statement of Baljeet’s father Jaspal Singh, a case has been registered under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 328 (causing hurt by means of poison with the intention to commit an offence) of the Indian Penal Code against the granthi at the Civil Lines police station.
Talking to media, Batala senior medical officer Dr Sanjeev Bhalla said 29 children were admitted to the civil hospital since Wednesday night of which one child was referred to Amritsar. All 28 children are out of danger now, he said.
Secretary of the Gurdwara management committee Kulwant Singh said the “prasad” was not prepared on the Gurdwara premises but by people living near the shrine for a function. It was, however, distributed in the Gurdwara in the evening as not many people turned up at the event, he added.
A Health department team has collected the sample of the ‘prashad‘ and sent it to the laboratory, police said. Jaspal Singh, the father of the deceased child, said both of his sons started feeling uncomfortable after reaching home from the gurudwara.
SGPC FORMS PROBE PANEL
Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Commitee (SGPC) chief Kirpal Singh Badungar mourned the death of the child and said a four-member committee has been formed to probe the incident. He said action would be taken against the granthi if found guilty.