In a shocking incident, the drinking water supply of an Islamic school, which houses at least 4,000 children, was contaminated with rat poison.
The incident happened in the north Indian city of Aligarh and the police have lodged a First Information Report (FIR) under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Investigators are on the lookout for two men who were allegedly seen mixing the poison into the water tank.
The school, Madrassa Chacha Nehru, is run by Al Noor Charitable Society. Salma Ansari, wife of former vice president of India Hamid Ansari, heads the charitable trust and has expressed her shock over the incident.
"Following the incident, we have decided to install CCTV cameras in the 18-year-old charitable institution which has 4000 students on its rolls," she said.
According to reports, no child was harmed in the incident as one of the students saw the men mixing the poison into the water supply. The men apparently threatened him with a country-made pistol when he confronted them, The Times of India reported.
"Fortunately, a student spotted the miscreants and alerted the warden. We have collected water samples which will be sent to forensic science laboratory (FSL) for tests," Aligarh senior superintendent of police Rajesh Pandey said.
The warden of the institute Junaid Siddiqui said he immediately cordoned off the area after the student informed him about the incident, and asked "students to drink water from other tanks in the premises".
Dr Ehtisham Ahmad, chief medical officer at Aligarh's J N Medical College, said that although rat poison is not fatal without an anticoagulant (substance that prevents or reduces coagulation of blood), it could have made children sick.
"A lot, however, would depend on the quantity of rat poison mixed in the water," he added.