At least two children who were residing at a facility for the differently-abled have died and 32 others are in a hospital in the city of Kapurthala in Punjab. The local police told International Business Times India, that the first of these deaths occurred on Monday, while the second occurred on Tuesday.
Sub-Inspector Jarnail Singh told IBTimes India the two deceased have been identified as a 14-year-old boy named Chhotu and a 19-year-old girl named Jyoti. Both were residents of the Sukhjit Ashram in Kapurthala.
Chhotu had initially complained of stomach pain on Monday afternoon, and was admitted to the local civil hospital after bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. He died on Monday night.
"The girl was admitted to the hospital complaining of symptoms that were similar to Chhotu's and died on Tuesday. As is customary at the civil hospital on such kind of deaths, the hospital informed the police about this," Singh said. However, he refused to comment on the reason behind these deaths, saying it would become clear only after the post-mortem examination of the two deceased.
He effectively brushed off speculation that the children had eaten something at the Ashram that was unfit for consumption. However, that possibility cannot be ruled out because multiple children have fallen sick.
Meanwhile, the remaining 32 children from Sukhjit Ashram, which is also known as the Gandhi Vanita Ashram, have also been admitted to the civil hospital for a comprehensive check-up and because some of them had exhibited similar symptoms — stomach ache, diarrhoea and vomiting. "Three of these children are in serious condition," Singh said.
It may be noted that various irregularities had been reported at the Sukhjit Ashram earlier, with some saying its inmates had been seen eating from the floor.