A group of Islamists who chopped off a Christian teacher’s hand after wrongly perceiving that he had based an examination question on Prophet Mohammad and thus conducted himself in a blasphemous manner, has now been jailed.
T J Joseph, a teacher at Thodupuzha Newman College in the Indian state of Kerala, was arrested by local police in April 2010 and received several death threats after he used a passage from the screenplay of a Malayalam film that features a conversation between God and the protagonist named Mohammad, in an examination question for his undergraduate students. However, the passage used by Joseph actually depicts a conversation between God and a fictional Mohammad, a character named after the film’s director P T Kunju Mohammad and not Islam’s prophet. Joseph said that he did not bother changing the name of the character because it never occurred to him that people might find a common ground between the fictional Mohammad and Islam’s prophet.
Despite his claims, a group of seven Islamists, belonging to a radical organization, Popular Front of India, attacked Joseph and chopped off his right hand while he was returning home from Sunday Mass with his family.
After being attacked in 2010, he was suspended by his college on grounds of inciting hatred, backed by the demands of local radical groups. Three years later, his wife committed suicide. The following year, Joseph was asked to rejoin his college.
Last month, Joseph unveiled a compilation of moral science class notes for his students.
“When I wrote these notes, it was with my right hand. Today, I introduce it to you with my left hand,” he said.
His hand has been stitched back since, after an arduous effort over a period of 17 months by a team of highly skilled doctors. After facing severe financial crisis and being ostracized in society, Joseph said during the unveiling that he has forgiven everyone and wants to continue living his life as normally as possible, given the circumstances. The book he recently unveiled was dedicated to his wife.
In 2013, Joseph was also acquitted by a local court in a case that accused him of having insulted Islam and spread hatred.
After five long years, a total number of 13 Islamists have finally been convicted and delivered sentences between three and eight years of jail time by NIA court in Ernakulam while 17 others have been acquitted in the case.
Photo Credits: New India Express