Prof TJ Joseph’s autobiography wins Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award

Joseph, whose hand was chopped off by activists of Islamist outfit PFI for alleged blasphemy, won the award for 'Attupokatha Ormakal’.
Professor TJ Joseph
Professor TJ Joseph
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The autobiography of professor TJ Joseph, whose hand was chopped off by activists of Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) for alleged blasphemy, has won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award 2021. Joseph's 'Attupokatha Ormakal', a chilling account of the religious extremism and the ordeal he underwent after the shocking incident in his life, shared the award with M Kunjaman's ‘Ethiru’ in the category of autobiography.

The award was announced on Wednesday, July 27, by K Satchidanandan, president of the Akademi, and its secretary professor CP Aboobacker. R Rajashree and Vinoy Thomas shared the award for best novel. Anwar Ali won the award for poetry. Devdas VM won the award in the category of short story. Writers Vaisakhan and professor KP Sankaran were selected for the Distinguished Membership of the Akademi. It carries a certificate, citation, two-sovereign gold locket and a cash award of Rs 50,000.

A former lecturer of Malayalam literature at Newman College in Thodupuzha, Joseph was attacked and his right hand was chopped off allegedly by activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in July 2010 while he, along with his mother and sister, was returning home from church. The attackers told him that he was being punished for the alleged sacrilegious undertones of one of the questions he had framed. The case was investigated by NIA and a special NIA court in 2015 had convicted 13 people, owing allegiance to the PFI.

PFI was upset with Joseph about a Malayalam question paper he had prepared for an internal examination at his college, claiming that it had inflammatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed. The PFI chopped off his right palm in retaliation for “blasphemy”. 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.

Other Awards

Writers K Jayakumar, Kadathanattu Narayanan, Janamma Kunjunni, Kaviyur Rajagopalan, Geetha Krishnankutty and KA Jayaseelan were honoured for their overall contribution to the literary world.

The award for best poetry was granted to ‘Mehaboob Express’ by Anvar Ali; best award for novel was granted to R Rajasree for ‘Kalyaniyennum Dakshayaniennum Peraya Randu Sthreekalude Kadha’ and Vinoy Thomas for ‘Puttu’; and ‘Vazhi Kandupidikkunnavar’ by VM Devadas won for being the best short story. Apart from this, Aymanam John (for translation), Pradeep Mandur (for best drama), Raghunath Paleri (under children’s literature), Venu (for travelogue), Aa For Annamma (under humour), N Ajayakumar (for literary criticism), and Gopakumar Cholayil (under the category scholarly literature) were also awarded.

(With PTI inputs)

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