news Friday, May 08, 2015 - 05:30
A National Investigative Agency court in Ernakulam has handed out a sentence of eight years to Popular Front of India (PFI) activists convicted of chopping off Kerala professor PJ Joseph’s hand nearly five years ago. Legal experts say that the quantum of punishment would act as a deterrent for hate crimes such as the one which motivated the attack on Joseph. The case was one of the first to draw attention to fundamentalist groups such as the PFI, whose members were involved in the attack.  The ten PFI activists were sentenced to eight years of rigorous imprisonment for chopping the hand of Joseph on July 4, 2010 in retaliation for his “blasphemy”. Observing that three convicts had helped the other ten to escape, the judge pronounced a two-year sentence for them. Ali, Jamal, Abdul Latheef, Shejeer, Kasim, Shobin, Anwar Sadiqq and six other PFI activists have been convicted. The court said that the offense committed by the convicts was not pardonable. Of the 13 people convicted, 11 people have been convicted on charges of attempt to murder and conspiracy. Ten of them have also been found guilty under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The other accused out of the total 31, had been acquitted.  When the police filed an FIR, 37 people had been named. But six people – five of them the main accused – have been absconding and their names had not been included in the chargesheet. One of the absconding accused was arrested just a week before the conviction.  Joseph was a lecturer at Newman College in Thodupuzha, Idukki district, Joseph had selected a passage to test students on punctuation from a short story by CPI(M) leader PT Kunju Mohammed. In the story, a nameless village madcap questions God. When setting the question, Joseph had named him Mohammed, which sparked a controversy when a newspaper affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami carried the news prominently, stating that the professor had purposefully defamed the Prophet. Read- How I was shocked at what a Catholic Church Marriage Preparatory class taught me Read- Attackers who chopped Kerala professor's hand convicted, but did we collectively fail him?