The Delhi Police have registered a case against a private school in central Delhi’s Hauz Qazi locality for allegedly confining 16 girls in the school’s basement on Monday as their parents had allegedly not paid the monthly fees, senior police officials told The girls are between the ages of four years and five years.

The students of Rabia public school were reportedly locked in the basement without food and water for close to five hours. The school administration reportedly let them out when their parents came to pick them up.

“Children were locked in the basement for not paying the fees,” Zia ud-din, one of the parents whose child was locked up, told NDTV. “I had cleared the fees, despite that my child was punished. The children were thirsty and were suffering in the heat. The police helped us. Even after I showed the proof of fees clearance, the principal was not apologetic or remorseful.”

The principal denied the allegations in an interview to a news channel, the Hindustan Times reported. “The basement is not a punishment place; it is an activity room where children play and learn music,” the principal added. “It is a kind of classroom.”

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he was shocked to hear of the incident. “I have immediately asked the officers to take strict action as I heard about it yesterday,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

The Delhi Commission for Women issued a notice to the police and education department. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sought a report on the alleged incident and summoned the Secretary and director of the education department, Sisodia added. Kejriwal said he would visit the school on Thursday with Sisodia and meet the students, their parents and school authorities.