The police say the restaurant functioned a day after the students fell sick as well, so there was a possibility that more people may have got food poisoning.
Two people have been arrested after a 16-year-old student died of food poisoning and 49 others were hospitalised after eating at a food outlet located in Neeleswaram in Kerala’s Kasargod. The two arrested have been identified as Sandhesh, who made the shawarma, and the restaurant’s managing partner Anas. Ideal Food Point, the restaurant where the students ate on Friday, April 29, has now been sealed.
According to reports, the student Devananda fell sick shortly after she ate the shawarma and passed away on Sunday, May 1. After her death, violence was reported outside the restaurant, with an angry crowd setting ablaze a vehicle that belonged to the restaurant.
On Monday, May 2, fresh raids were conducted on the restaurant, which was found to have been functioning without a license. However, police say the restaurant functioned a day after the students fell sick as well, so there was a possibility that more people may have got food poisoning. They added that the shop did not have a valid license from the Food Safety Department.
The two arrested have been booked under sections 304 (death by negligence), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 272 (adulteration) of the Indian Penal Code. The owner of the outlet, who lives in Dubai, has also been called for an investigation by the police.
The District Medical Officer (DMO) of Kasaragod, AV Ramdas, said that 31 people were admitted to a government hospital in Kanhangad, of which one person was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). While four people were admitted to MIMS in Kannur, 10 people were at the Community Healthcare Center (CHC) in Cheruvathoor and three at the Pariyaram Healthcare Center. The parents of one of the children who fell sick has voluntarily shifted the patient to a private hospital in Mangaluru in neighboring Karnataka. “Some of them were admitted with mild symptoms and discharged today,” the police said.
Meanwhile, local residents threw rocks and stones at the restaurant, breaking the windows and also set a vehicle belonging to the shop on fire. The police had warned the people not to indulge in such activities and resort to violence. The shop was sealed as soon as the incident was reported.
According to sources, the food outlet was situated near a tuition center that the students attended. DMO Ramdas had said that more cases were expected – as the restaurant functioned for a day after the student’s death before it was sealed – and that doctors and staff from other nearby medical institutions have been asked to be present at the Cheruvathur PHC and Neeleswaram Taluk hospitals .
State Food and Civil Supplies Department, in a statement, said that the outlet, functioning without proper license from the department, has been sealed and the District Collector directed to conduct an investigation. State Health Minister Veena George has ordered a comprehensive inquiry into the incident.
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association said that the restaurant was not a part of their association as it did not have a license. The association also said that proper inspection was not carried out at the restaurant as authorities only inspect food outlets that have a license. The restaurant was raided by the police on Monday, and samples from the restaurant have been sent to a lab in Kozhikode to find out what caused the poisoning.
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