Indian teacher Shijo Kokkattu was arrested last week on Raa Atoll for possession of Catholic imagery and a Bible.
A Raafainu School teacher had contacted police after finding what appeared to be Christian hymn videos on a school computer, which 30 year-old Kokkattu had allegedly transferred from his personal flash drive by accident.
Foreign media and school sources reported that religious songs and pictures had been transferred onto the desktop of a school laptop, which Kokkattu had used.
“The videos were in Indian, so I don’t know what they were saying, but the images were Christian,” said Raafainu Principal Mohamed Shiraj. Shiraj did not know if the video transfer was intentional.
Shiraj said that a teacher had found the material and contacted the National Administrative Center, which had reported the matter to the police. Kokkattu was taken into custody, where he has been held for the past week.
Police could not confirm Kokkattu’s arrest and detention.
Kokkattu, of Kerala, India, had been teaching at Raafainu School for two years before his arrest. “He was a very good teacher, we’ve not had any complaints of him in the past,” said Shiraj.
Shiraj said Kokkattu had not shown the material to anyone.
Meanwhile, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has demanded in regional media that the Indian government seek an apology from the Maldives over Kokkattu’s treatment.
“The lack of justice and the degree of religious intolerance in the Maldives is reflected by the actions of the Maldives government,” GCIC President Sajan K George told Asia News. “This is the worst form of religious persecution. The Indian government should demand an apology for the shabby treatment inflicted on one of its citizens.”
George called Kokkattu’s case evidence of the Maldives’ paradoxical nature. He said the Maldives “claims to be a major tourist destination, yet arrests innocent people,” George said. “This shows its intolerance and discrimination towards non-Muslims as well as its restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion.”