Barbaric Attack on Kerala Professor: A Few Questions

by Ritwik on July 9, 2010

A few days back, thugs belonging to a radical Islamist outfit called Popular Front chopped off the right hand of Prof. T.J. Joseph, a private college lecturer in Muvattapuzha in Kerala as “punishment” for the  “offence” of hurting religious sentiments. The Hindu has covered this story in some detail.

Dilip D’Souza has raised some pertinent questions in this regard:

* Why the college management “apologised”.

* Why the Kerala government saw fit to issue “instructions” that the professor should be suspended.

* Why the college followed the government’s instruction and suspended him.

* Why the police lodged a case against the professor.

The following is worth noting as well:

T. Vikram, Superintendent of Police, Ernakulam Rural, who was camping in the area, said: “We have talked to church leaders to convince them that an all-out effort is being made to nab the culprits.” (as reported in The Hindu)

I don’t understand why the police needed to specifically assure church leaders that the perpetrators of this ghastly attack will be brought to justice? Surely these “church leaders” should have been incensed regardless of the religious affiliation of the victim?

Of course, this episode would not have even become a news story had the attackers not committed the tactical error of chopping off Joseph’s hand. As it is, they had him on the run. A little bit of shouting from the rooftops had ensured that:

1. Joseph was suspended from his job. In what capacity did the state Government instruct a PRIVATE institute to suspend an employee is not clear.

2. He was picked up and harassed by the police.

3. After getting out on bail, he went into hiding to escape frequent death threats. In response, the police put out a wanted poster for his arrest

Why exactly were the government and the police so keen to prosecute Prof. Joseph? Why were the charges of “hurting religious sentiments” believed at face value and not investigated properly? What constrained the government to apply the serious charge of “fomenting communal hatred” on the Professor? What about the concept of an educational institution being an open space? Why did the state not defend Prof. Joseph’s fundamental right to expression?

Maybe the secular, progressive and people friendly Left Democratic Front government of Kerala can provide some answers.


A comment on the first 4 qns.. All the said things happened much before the hand-chopping incident; after the controversy about the qn paper came up.Not taking sides;and from my limited knowledge of the issue;it was a case of gross-misunderstanding (which even the professor agreed to) which nobody could have helped.And infact,most of the religious violence cases are results of lack of dialogues between communities.And about the state govt’s power to act-as far as i know,all colleges-be it private,are affliated to state universities and hence they are bound to respond to state govt.And the case as it evolved;had reasons fit enough for a suspension pending-enquiry.

But none of these supports the hand-chopping incident which was completeli abnoxious.A proper enquiry must be done before coming to speedy conclusions;and in the existing poltical atmosphere of the state;the need for the enquiry 2 b non-linear is very important.
A last word- “thugs belonging to a radical Islamist outfit called Popular Front chopped off”.. who told you thats the case .. The culprits are missing;the organisation itself denied the charges;pls dont make careless statements without enough proofs to support your claim.

by Azeef on July 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm. #

1. You say that the Professor accepted it as a case of gross misunderstanding [I assume and hope that you are talking of the incidents prior to the chopping of his hand]. It is more pertinent that those whose sentiments had been “hurt” did not accept it as a case of gross misunderstanding. Because if they had, they would not have gone and retributed in the manner that they did.
2.Maybe the case was fit for a suspension pending inquiry. As I understand Section 295 of the IPC [related to fomenting communal hatred] was slapped on the Professor. I am not aware of an inquiry committee going into the issue. Please tell me if this was done on the basis of recommendations of an inquiry committee, if one was ever instituted.
3. It is generally understood that Popular Front had instigated the campaign against the professor. The media has widely reported on this issue. The Hindu link I posted above specifically mentions Popular Front activists being arrested.
Given the lead up to the incident, their denial doesn’t ring very true to me. It is similar to say, the VHPs involvement and subsequent denial of the same in the Gujarat riots.

As of now most media reporting on the issue in responsible national newspapers has mentioned the Popular Front.

Of course, if it is later proved that Popular Front was not involved in the attack I would be happy to publish a retraction.

by Ritwik Agrawal on July 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm. #

On 1,the Prof’s stmnt was from his hospital after the whole incident.
And yes,popular front was the organisation involved in the campaigns against the prof(the incidents are in fact atlst 2,3 months old) and thats xactli why they are arrested and the investigation is going in that path ever since the hand-chopping incident;and dats xactli my point.

by Azeef on July 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm. #

It’s hard to imagine someone having his hand chopped off and then accepting everything as a misunderstanding . Do you fully understand the severity of what’s happened Azeef? In your first post you describe this event as “completeli abnoxious” I’m a little stunned by how lightly you seem to be taking this. You go on to say that there were reasons fit enough for his suspension. Do you really believe that if someone makes a reference to the prophet in anything other than a worshipful, beautifying light that that person should be persecuted?

by Raghuvirdass Dass on July 11, 2010 at 11:18 am. #

Back to basics folks! Communalism exists as an ideology and not in its Muslim, Hindu or Christian variants. To tolerate and encourage one is fostering all others.

by Shailendra Dhar on July 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm. #

@ Shailendra Dhar: Agree completely.

by Ritwik on July 18, 2010 at 4:29 am. #

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