news Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 05:30
Thirteen people have been convicted, and 18 people acquitted by the National Investigation Agency court in Kochi, for chopping off professor T J Joseph’s hand in a 2010 Taliban-style, cold-blooded attack in Kerala. The case first drew attention to fundamentalist groups such as the Popular Front of India, whose members were involved in the attack.  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. When the police filed an FIR, 37 people had been named. But six people – five of them the main accused – who have been absconding and whose names had not been included in the chargesheet. One of the absconding accused, was arrested just a week ago.  A group of activists of the Popular Front of India chopped off T J Joseph’s right hand on July 4, 2010, for “blasphemy”. A lecturer at Newmans College in Thodupuzha, Idukki district, Joseph had selected a passage to test students on punctuation from a short story by CPI(M) leader P.T. 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. The court has said that there was enough evidence to prove that the attack was part of a well-planend conspiracy and was not a spontaneous attack. Reacting to the judgment, Joseph had said: “As far as the legal case goes, I cooperated… I went to court. But personally, I have forgiven them. The verdict changes nothing for me personally because I lost everything due to this incident. Picture courtesy- Asianet The attack In July 2010, a group of eight people attacked Josepeh as he and his family were returning home from church. In a brutal attack, in broad daylight, his right hand was chopped off. His hand was reattached after a 15-hour surgery . Two months after the incident, the college terminated Professor from service for hurting religious sentiments of a community.  “I was shocked; I never expected this action from the management. Nobody was ready to listen to me. Nobody enquired the truth“, TJ Joseph had told The News Minute a few months ago. Later in November 13, 2013, the Thodupuzha chief judicial magistrate court absolved Joseph of charges under Section 295 of the IPC and in March 2014, he was reinstated by the college. “I was reinstated just one day before my retirement. In spite of papers from the court being forwarded to government, no one made any move to help me get back to work," he said.   Tragedies followed   After Professor Joseph’s termination from the college, the family was barely able to make ends meet with no regular income.    On March 20, 2014, his wife Salomi committed suicide. Joseph says she was a wife and mother who had come under extreme mental pressure, and was not strong enough to wade through the troubles.   “We could not put up with the financial struggles. Our daughter’s marriage also faced problems because of the crisis and she (Salomi) could not bear all this”, he said.   The family was going through extremely hard times and was surviving on Rs 2 ration rice. Thomas also told TNM that their circumstances had turned so dire that his wife had even planned to work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS), the government scheme for the rural poor, for survival.   “I live for my children. I hold no grudge against anyone. Though initially the media wrongly publicised the issue, later on the same media helped me. They had conducted campaigns to help me,” he added.    
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