Rabea Girls’ Public School in Old Delhi allegedly locked up close to 16 kindergarten girls in one of its rooms in the basement on Tuesday because their parents had not paid the fees.

While the children’s parents allege that the school administration confined the kids from 7:30 am to about 12:30 pm in extreme heat, the vice-chairperson of the Parents Teachers Association of the school, Abdul Basit Khan, said that they were locked from recess, that is from 11 am till 12.30 pm, their usual time to leave the school. The school headmistress denied allegations of the parents who claimed that the administration kept their children hungry and thirsty.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has taken cognizance of the case and asked for a report.

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“Children were locked in the basement for not paying the fees. I had cleared the fees, despite that my child was punished. The children were thirsty and were suffering in the heat. Police helped us. Even after I showed the proof of fees clearance, the Principal was not apologetic or remorseful,” said a parent, Zia-Ud-Din, NDTV reported.

Another parent, Muhammad Khalid, said, “If fees are not cleared, why are you punishing the kids? The girls were crying constantly.”

“The administration should not have locked them up but it was only a minor incident and that we should not give much importance to it,” – Abdul Basit Khan

The head mistress of the school, Farah Diba, said she had put two teachers on duty in the basement where the children were.

Talking to SheThePeople.TV, Khan agreed that the incident did take place and it should not have, but denied that anything drastic happened in the basement. “The children were playing as the basement room double up as the playroom for kids where we have all the toys they play with. The administration should not have locked them up but it was only a minor incident and that we should not give much importance to it.”

When told that some parents showed the fee slips and yet their children were confined, he said only the students whose fees were not cleared were kept, but “there could be a slip in management”.

“There are only 15 to 20 parents who are complaining against us. Our school has close to 2,000 parents and they are with us,” added Khan.

Police have registered a case against the school authorities. “We have registered a case under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act. We are investigating the matter,” police told news agency ANI.

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