Six people have been found guilty by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi for their involvement in a 2010 case where a college professor in Kerala had his hand chopped off.
The professor was accused of insulting Prophet Mohammed in a question paper.
Meanwhile, five other individuals have been acquitted in relation to the same case. The NIA judge, Anil Bhaskar, is scheduled to announce the punishment for the convicted individuals on Thursday.
This verdict came in the second phase of the trial, which was based on a supplementary chargesheet filed against 11 people. In the first phase of the trial in 2015, the court had already delivered its verdict, finding 13 of the accused guilty and acquitting 18 others.
All of the accused individuals were associated with the Popular Front of India, an organization that was banned in 2022.
During the first trial, the 11 accused mentioned in the supplementary chargesheet were not present as they were either on the run or had evaded arrest. However, they later either surrendered or were apprehended by the NIA.
It is worth noting that the first accused, Savad, who was responsible for chopping off the professor's palm, is still at large.
On 4 July 2010, Professor T J Joseph of Newman College, Thodupuzha, was attacked by an armed gang allegedly because he had insulted the Prophet in a question paper for an internal college exam.
The exam was held in March and days later, a controversy erupted over the question paper, leading to protests by Muslim outfits in the state. Joseph was arrested and later granted bail in the case.
According to the prosecution, a gang armed with weapons and explosive materials attacked Professor Joseph. They brutally chopped off his right palm with an axe and attempted to kill him.
The accused individuals were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the Explosive Substances Act.
After taking over the investigation from the Kerala Police, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) concluded that the attack was an act of terrorism. As a result, the accused were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
On Wednesday, the court found Sajil Makkar, M K Nazer, Najeeb, M K Noushad, P P Moideen Kunju, and P M Ayoob guilty.
Makkar was directly involved in the attack, while Nazer, a state committee member of the PFI, was identified as one of the main conspirators. Shafeeq, Azeez Odakkali, Mohammed Rafi, Manzoor, and T P Subair were acquitted of all charges.
Joseph, who is now retired, responded to the verdict by expressing his belief that conviction of an accused does not equate to delivering justice to the victim.
He said that the individuals who physically attacked him were merely instruments, and the true culprits who planned and orchestrated the crime are still at large.
“Those who attacked me were only weapons. The real perpetrators of the crime, the persons who planned and gave tasks to the assailants are still at large. I have only the curiosity of any ordinary citizen in this verdict,” he said, reports The Hindu.
Joseph’s palm was later sutured back at a hospital in Kochi.
In Joseph's view, the accused individuals were themselves victims of a "barbaric rule."
He urged for society to embrace modernity, humanity, and scientific thinking.
Despite the losses he suffered in the incident, Joseph expressed hope that his traumatic experience would contribute to the emergence of a new generation free from the influence of "barbaric norms of the past".
The attack on Joseph occurred in Muvattupuzha, located in the Ernakulam district. It happened just a few meters away from his home while he was returning from Sunday prayers at a local church.
The assailants forcibly pulled him out of his car and assaulted him in the presence of his mother and sister. Additionally, they detonated an explosive device to create fear.
Following the attack on Joseph, the Catholic management of Newman College suspended him from his service.
Despite appeals from the state government, civil society, and the university for his reinstatement, the Catholic Church did not take any action in his favor.
Tragically, on 20 March 2014, Joseph's wife, Salomy, died by suicide allegedly due to her despair over the Church's unwillingness to reinstate Joseph, who was the sole breadwinner of the family.
Joseph expressed that the Church's action had caused him more pain than the attack carried out by the PFI.
Following the death of Salomy, which led to widespread protests against the Church, Joseph was reinstated on 31 March 2014, on the day of his retirement.
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