In a gruesome incident, suspected religious extremists chopped off the right hand of TJ Joseph, a Malayalam professor at Newman’s College, under suspension since March for allegedly preparing a question paper with derogatory references to Prophet Muhammad, at Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district on Sunday morning. The police took into custody 15 persons, reportedly activists of Islamist resistance outfit NDF (presently Popular Front of India), for questioning.
How many people were aware of such an organisation? Is the state government not supposed to keep a check on them? There were already protests in March after the question paper controversy. Why did the attackers wait till July?
There is no scope for dilly-dallying here. They had absolutely no business to harm the professor or even threaten him. If they were disturbed by the references to the Prophet, they could have used legal recourse. This group has been bundled as an Islamist outfit. Had they been true believers they would not have conducted this horrific act in the month of Ramzan. They are just criminals who probably have political aspirations.
I am aware that someone will turn around and say that they are only upholding the spirit of Islam and jihad. The BJP has jumped in already:
Demanding an NIA probe into the attack on the college professor, Kerala BJP president V Muraleedharan asked the Home Ministry not to encourage Talibanism in the State. “The Thodupuzha incident proves that Islamic terrorism has strengthened in Kerala. We are not blaming any particular outfit for that. But a tendency to nurture Talibanism should not be there,” he said in Thiruvananthapuram.
As someone quite familiar with Kerala, I can say that this was one state that seemed to be the least communal. Regionalism, too, was limited. You could hardly every tell the community to which a Keralite belonged – they speak the same language, dress in similar fashion, eat the same food. They are liberate and well-read as well. The Gulf traffic proved to be an economic boom and irrespective of what faith they believed in, they all constructed hideous-looking houses when they returned on ‘holydess’.
Would a stray Madani, who incidentally has not yet been found culpable in the Bangalore blasts case, change the attitude of the Keralite?
The chopping of the professor’s hand is a judicial matter. If this group was trying to follow the Sharia, then there is no place for it in India. They have to follow the Constitution. As I said, if the reference to the Prophet has bothered them, then they should take up the matter with the authorities. I do not know what prompted the professor to make derogatory references in a language paper. The college is a Christian one and affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University. And he was sacked. Why? Did the authorities think he had done something wrong? Was that probed? The dismissal took effect from September 1.
Who are these lumpen elements, then? Why did they wait for all these months? I hope they are arrested and given adequate punishment. More importantly, I hope they are arrested on charges of threatening, attacking and causing bodily harm.
Just as I believe they should be tried according to the Indian Constitution, their accusers should not try them in their kangaroo courts on charges of ‘Talibanism’. It’s not there in our statute books. And the family’s forgiveness in July does not count.
The case should have been solved by now. Is his dismissal more damaging? Will it get more attention?