The students of St Agnes’ High School in Byculla, Mumbai, paid a heavy price for being absent for a day as the principal ordered them to stand in the blazing sun for seven hours.

The incident happened last week when around 40 students were made to stand outside the school as a punishment for remaining absent on July 9. The ‘disciplinary’ episode resulted in angry parents protesting outside the school on Monday, July 13. Many of them also approached the Nagpada police station to file a complaint against the P rincipal Louisa D’Mello.

Indian Express

According to reports, the majority of the punished students, belonged to the Dawoodi Bohra community, and didn’t report to school on July 9 due to Laylat al-Qadr , or the ‘Night of Power’, or ‘blessed night’, which is considered an auspicious occasion for prayers. Four students who had been fasting for Ramzan were unable to break their fast because they were not allowed to go inside the school because of the punishment. “There was no reason for the principal to treat the children in such an insensitive manner by keeping them out for the entire day in the sun knowing that they were fasting,” a parent of a class VIII student said .

Many other parents too joined the protests saying that the school has given such punishments to students on previous occasions also.

However, D’Mello dismissed the allegations and said that there was no intention of disrespecting any religion. “As per the rules of discipline prevalent in the school, all absentees must get their school calendar signed by the principal before entering the class. On Friday, quite a few students were absent and hence they could not be accommodated along the corridor of the principal’s office where absentees usually stand for the signature. Hence they stood outside the school building out of choice,” she said .

“We are recording the parents’ statements and if required, an FIR will be registered,” senior inspector Shivaji Kadam from Nagpada station said . BB Chavan, education inspector of Mumbai South Zone, said his officers had visited the school on Tuesday, July 14, to investigate the matter. He further added that such punishments on students will not be tolerated and further course of action will be decided after due investigation.