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Controversial question paper: Lecturer’s hand chopped off

Less than four months after he sparked off a controversy for reportedly insulting Prophet Muhammed in a question paper,a college lecturer...

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
July 5, 2010 2:54:08 am

Less than four months after he sparked off a controversy for reportedly insulting Prophet Muhammed in a question paper,a college lecturer,T J Joseph,was attacked by some unidentified men who chopped off his right hand,at Muvattupuzha in central Kerala today.

Joseph,52,Malayalam lecturer at Catholic-run Newman College,Thodupuzha,was returning home after attending Sunday prayers at the local church when he was attacked. He was accompanied by his mother and sister.

Police have taken into custody two suspected activists of the right-wing Popular Front of India. Joseph has been admitted to the Specialist Hospital in Kochi.

According to Joseph’s sister,Stella Joseph,the assailants in a van waylaid their vehicle and pulled out the lecturer,after bursting explosives to create a scare. While Joseph was being attacked,his mother and sister were warned not to step out of the vehicle. The gang fled the scene after severing his right hand.

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Ernakulam SP T Vikram said the attack seemed to have been pre-planned. A blood-stained van,suspected to have been used by the assailants,has been seized.

In April this year,Joseph was arrested after a question paper set by him triggered protests by Muslims. He was later released on bail.

The question paper,for an internal degree exam in March,contained a text taken from an article written by P T Kunjumuhammed,a director of several award-winning films and former CPI(M) legislator.

Referring to his film Garshom,Kunjumuhammed explained in the article that the thread for a scene in the movie,in which the protagonist speaks to God,was picked from his own experience about a madman who used to speak to God. While reproducing the conversation as a passage for punctuation,Joseph replaced the mad man with Muhammed,thus making it seem like a dialogue between God and Muhammed.

Protesting against the question paper,Muslim organisations,particularly the Popular Front of India and Jamaat-e-Islami,had said it was an insult to Prophet Muhammed. The issue soon gained communal colour,leading to violent incidents in Thodupuzha region. There were attempts to trigger communal violence,after protesters targeted a temple in the town.

Joseph,who first went into hiding,later surrendered before the police. Meanwhile,the university suspended him for a year. Out on bail,Joseph had earlier complained to the police about a threat to his life.

Today’s attack has evoked widespread protests from all political parties. Education Minister M A Baby said it was a deliberate attempt to create communal divide in society. The BJP said the incident indicated the growing influence of communal forces in Kerala.

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