Kochi: The Kochi police will probe whether M.M. Akbar, managing director, Peace Education Foundation, had tried to effect “conversions” through his organisation and whether he had links with international extremist outfits. The Ernakulam Judicial Magistrate Court on Monday remanded him in police custody for five days though the investigation officers asked for seven days. “He was slapped with charges under 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language). During interrogation, we’ll quiz him on all angles, including suspected links with terror agencies,” said investigation officer and assistant commissioner of police (Ernakulam) K. Laljy.
The officer said Akbar himself had admitted earlier that the syllabus taught in the school was selected by a panel headed by him. “Now we’ll try to find out whether the classes were focusing more on religion and what was taught in the school,” he said. The case was registered in October 2016 based on a complaint by the district education officer that the school was teaching textbooks propagating communal hatred. A probe by the education department found the school wasn’t teaching from texts recommended by the NCERT, CBSE or SCERT, but followed textbooks compiled by a Mumbai-based Islamic educational institution.
Portions of a class 2 textbook that propagates Islamic orthodoxy and conversion were leaked, in which there were objective type questions on what the students would do “if their friend wanted to convert to Islam,” “how to deal with non-Muslims” and “how many of you are willing to die for Islam? Think, think think.” Cops collected religious texts and study materials from the school during an inspection held afterwards following suspicion that Merin, a teacher with the school, had joined the Islamic State. In December 2016, three Mumbai-based publishers were arrested for printing the textbooks with objectionable content. In January last, the state government ordered closure of the Kochi-based Peace School based on a report submitted by the district collector and the district education officer.
Akbar was held from Hyderabad airport the other day by immigration officials based on a lookout notice issued by the Kochi police earlier. He was on his way from Australia to Qatar via Malaysia and landed in Hyderabad for a brief stopover. His arrest, however, was questioned by several quarters. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the LDF government was behaving like Modi, persecuting minorities on trumped-up charges....