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Dibakar Dutta (দিবাকর দত্ত) @dibakardutta_

Publication: Threadreaderapp.com
Date: July 4, 2022
URL:      https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1543859545176670208.html?s=03

On this day, 12 years ago, the life of a Christian Malayalam Professor named T.J. Joseph took a drastic turn.

His right hand (till his wrist) was chopped off by extremists, associated with the Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).

Here is his story:

The day was July 4, 2010.

Joseph, who was 53 years old at that time, was returning home from church in his car at about 8 o’clock in the morning.

He was accompanied by his sister and mother.

A gang of 6 Islamists laid siege on his car.

Armed with an axe, they chopped off his hand below the wrist and ditched the severed part in a nearby land.

The assailants also stabbed the Professor in the leg and arm.

Joseph’s wife tried to intervene but was chased away. (3/n)
The extremists soon fled the crime scene, leaving an injured Joseph to fend for himself.

The victim’s neighbours eventually rushed him to Specialists Hospital in Kochi, which was located 50 kilometres away from his home.

But, what did Joseph do? (4/n)

In March 2010, Joseph had prepared a set of questions for the Malayalam language paper for 2nd-year BCom students.

Reportedly, one of the questions asked students to punctuate a conversation between God and a character.

The conversation was extracted from the book ‘Thirakathayude Reethisasthram‘, written by Malayalam Director Kunju Muhammed.

The character in the passage was that of a man suffering from schizophrenia and having a constant dialogue with God.

Without thinking much about the consequences, he named the man ‘Muhammed’ after the name of the Malayalam director.

Islamists were quick to cry ‘blasphemy’ and interpret the question as a conversation between Prophet Muhammad and God.

The matter received widespread traction after the Jamaat-e-Islami-run newspaper, Madhyamam, reported about it.

Soon, radical Islamic outfits such as PFI, Campus Front of India, Indian Union Muslim League and even the Congress party-led large-scale protests against Joseph.


A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against him by the Kerala Police. He was arrested and even fired from Newman College, where he taught as a Professor.

Joseph was released on bail in April 2010.

Three months later, his right hand was chopped off by extremists associated with PFI.

Distraught by their financial condition and the tragedy that befell their family, Joseph's wife Salomi committed suicide on March 19, 2014.

In 2015, the court found 13 accused guilty in the hand-chopping case.

The accused included Jamal, Mohammed Shobin, Shamsuddin, Shanavas, Pareeth K.A, Younus Aliyar, K.K. Ali, Jaffar, Shejeer, and Kasim.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/13-found-guilty-in-palmchopping-case/article7161229.ece

In May 2022, the NIA Court in Kochi granted bail to accused Shafeeq after all witnesses turned hostile during the course of the investigation.

Many of the conspirators remain absconding to this day. (13/n)

In September last year, Joseph gave an interview to @TOIIndiaNews.

He said that initially, people were sympathetic towards him, but many still believe that the punishment he had gotten was for a crime he had allegedly committed.

Joseph said, “I wanted to present the truth, and an autobiography was the ideal medium for it. Moreover, I wanted to reveal how insecure we are due to religious extremism. No one is safe in this country when such a situation arises.”

His book: https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/A_Thousand_Cuts/kshAEAAAQBAJ?hl=en

He pointed out that when a situation like his happens, everyone finds themselves “as ephemeral and vulnerable as cobwebs.”

Joseph conceded that the physical pain was nothing in front of what the college management and church did to him. (16/n)

He recounted how the principal and management of Thodupuzha Newman College and his church supported him when the controversy first erupted, but in later stages, everyone left him alone.

He was dismissed from the service over alleged blasphemy. (17/n)

The church excommunicated his family, and pastoral letters were read in 120 churches in the Kothamangalam diocese against him, justifying the church’s action to disown him.

Friends and family members stopped visiting his house out of Church’s fear. (18/n)

Joseph said, “My attackers were blinded by fundamentalism, and they gave me only physical pain but what my own people did to me was even worse as it affected my family and me in all ways.”

Every day, someone or the other is paying with their lives at the hands of these extremists.

Either under the pretext of blasphemy or a religious procession being carried through their neighbourhoods.

Kanhaiya Lal, Kishan Bharwad and Kamlesh Tiwari are no more with us.

Read my detailed article in Opindia:

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