The Delhi government on Monday directed the district magistrate to take over a private shelter home in the city’s Dwarka locality where girls were allegedly abused by staff members, PTI reported. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also instructed the district magistrate to appoint new staff members and said none of the inmates should be separated.

The alleged abuse came to light after members of the state Commission for Women made a surprise visit to the home on December 27 and spoke to the girls, aged between six and 15 years, about the condutions at the shelter. A few girls accused the women staff of punishing them by applying chilli powder to their genitals. According to the commission, the girls were allegedly forced to eat chilli powder as well.

Two days after the reports, the Delhi Police arrested four women staff members. A few older girls had also told the commission that they were forced to wash utensils and clothes, clean rooms and toilets as the shelter did not have adequate staff.

The government has directed the women’s commission to conduct an inquiry and submit a report within 15 days, ANI reported. “It is the primary responsibility of the agencies specified under Section 30 of the Juvenile Justice Act to ensure the care and protection of all children residing in shelter homes in their jurisdiction and this case is an example of gross failure of this responsibility,” Sisodia said. “In view of the note submitted by the chairperson, DCW, it is directed that action be taken immediately.”