A student from Thailand, who was locked inside a hostel room of a school in Mohali allegedly after he demanded a school-leaving certificate, was rescued by a warrant officer, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, late on Wednesday evening.
The lock of the room had to be broken to free the boy as the warden refused to hand over the key to the warrant officer, sources said.
The principal of St Stephens School at Tonga had allegedly ordered locking up of Nopparat Srimuang, a class X student, on Tuesday unless he paid the fee for the next session before leaving.
The warrant officer was appointed after Srimuang’s local guardian Anchalee Seangthong, a Thai research scholar at Panjab University, filed a petition on Wednesday, alleging that Srimuang was being kept in illegal confinement at the school.
Sources said the warrant officer found that while Srimuang was locked in a room, the other children were watching television in the common room.
Said K S Chahal, counsel for the petitioner, “Srimuang’s parents called Anchalee and told her that Srimuang wanted to leave the school and had booked a flight back home for day after tomorrow. The petitioner approached the school on Tuesday. The principal asked Anchalee to pay the fee for the next session and take him. Since then, he was confined in a room.’’
One of Chahal’s associates Gurvinder Singh, who accompanied the warrant officer, said, “Srimuang was locked inside a room all alone. He was scared when we rescued him.”
The boy, in his statement to the warrant officer, reportedly said that the school was demanding Rs 60,000 as hostel fee and tuition fee, although he had paid his dues up to September 30.
He alleged that he was being physically and mentally harassed for months. Therefore, he had been calling his parents, asking them to get him out of the school.
The school principal could not be reached for comment.
A police official from Mullanpur Police Station said, “A DDR was lodged by the warrant officer and Srimuang was handed over to his local guardian.’’
In his interim order, Justice Jaspal Singh ordered the warrant officer to submit his report on or before the next date of hearing, which is scheduled for October 7. The court also issued notices to the Punjab Government, SSP of Mohali, school principal and warden of the boys’ hostel.