11 dead, over 80 hospitalised after eating contaminated prasad at temple in Karnataka

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Friday, police officials confirmed that 11 people died and and 82 were hospitalised after they consumed prasad (food offering to god) at a temple in Sulawadi village of Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka.

According to the police, the incident occurred at the Kicchukatti Maramma temple in Sulawadi village, where devotees had gathered for a ritual. A district official claimed that some toxic substance may have got mixed with the religious offering being served at the temple, resulting in the tragedy. “We have collected samples and sent them to a laboratory for analysis,” he told the media.

According to a witness, devotees decided to eat the rice-based offering although it was smelling of kerosene. “Soon afterwards, they complained of stomachache and began vomiting,” he told NDTV.

Murugappa, a devotee who was present at the temple, told HT that the devotees were given tomato rice and flavoured water at the temple. “There was a foul smell emanating from the food, but those at the head of the queue consumed the food nonetheless. A little while later they started vomiting and frothing at the mouth,” he said.

Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expressing shock over the incident had directed the authorities to ensure that the affected people receive proper medical treatment, and also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for each of the victims’ families.

“I came to know about this while I was returning from Belagavi. Spoke to district authorities. At first I did not realise how serious it was. Our MLA, Puttaraju, went to the spot. There are reports that the food was deliberately poisoned. It is being tested. Action will be taken against whoever is behind this inhuman act,” Kumaraswamy said.

Police said that doctors think the toxin could be pesticide, only an investigation will confirm how it entered the food.