After food poisoning incident: Schoolchildren sent home to calm parents
ISLAMABAD, Feb 7: Teachers of the Jamia Muhammadia Ghausia had great news for the 350 resident students of the religious school on Thursday after a harrowing night.
“Go home and visit your families,” the teachers announced to the students, saying the Jamia was being closed for three days.
Behind the closure lay the concerns of parents who had overwhelmed the school management with anxious calls after hearing of mass food poisoning among its students on Wednesday night.
“As the electronic media kept telecasting the incident whole night, parents got panicky and started calling our Jamia. We thought it better to allow the students to visit their families and have closed the school for three days,” the vice principal of the Jamia, Mr Ghulam Farooq Zia, told Dawn.
One of his student, Mohammad Tayyab of Forward Kahuta, is still lying in a critical condition in the local Polyclinic hospital.
It is said the 25-year-old student of Dars-i-Nizami was among the scores of participants of a Seerat Conference who had fallen ill after taking the food served there. The conference was organised at the Convention Centre by the National Seerat Council headed by Fata MNA Noor-ul-Haq Qadri.
Vice principal Zia said that about 250 students of his school had participated in the conference.
“Vegetable Pulao, Chicken Korma, Nan and Gajar Ka Halwa were on the menu and some students overate and developed problems related to indigestion.
“I think that Gajar Ka Halwa was unhealthy, maybe because it was several days old. There were more than 1,500 participants at the conference from many institutions, including the Jamia Rizvia of Satellite Town in Rawalpindi, Jamia Qamar-ul-Islam in F-6 and Jamia Nazeeria in G-7. I am told students of other institutions were also taken ill,” he said.
In-charge of the hostel of the Jamia and a retired army officer, Sultan Sikandar, found it strange that some fell ill after taking the food but others remained unhurt.
Dars-i-Nizami student Mohammad Shahbaz was among the unlucky ones. “We had gone to sleep after returning from the Seerat Conference when several of us started vomiting. The Jamia staff immediately arranged a bus to take us to hospital. Doctors prescribed me Flagyl tablets. Now I am going to my native village in Haripur area,” he told Dawn.
But his friend Muneer Ahmed admittedly had “lots of Halwa” and nothing happened to him. “Maybe my body has more resistance,” he said.
Secretariat police station officer Ashfaq Ahmed investigating the case said the food at the seerat meeting was supplied by Nazir
Catering Service, Rawalpindi.
It was the second case of mass food poisoning in the federal capital in two months.
On December 9 about 50 persons, including groom and bride, suffered food poisoning at a wedding party. Majority of the victims were women and children.
Samples of food served there were collected for testing but the police are still waiting for the results after two months.