A special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has handed down life sentences to three convicted PFI activists in the Kerala hand-chopping case. Sajil (36), the second accused, M K Nasar (46), the third accused, and K A Najeeb (42), the fifth accused, were found guilty and have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Additionally, the court imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each of the three individuals.
The remaining three convicts, namely PP Moideen Kunju (60), MK Naushad (48), and PM Ayoob (48), have been sentenced to three years in prison.
The case involved the chopping off of a college professor's hand in Kerala, allegedly because he insulted Prophet Mohammed in a question paper.
According to a report, while convicting the three individuals, the court took note of the following details: Sajil, the second accused, actively participated in the attack. Nasar, the third accused, was the primary conspirator behind the case, while Najeeb, the fifth accused, was involved in planning the "terrorist act" but did not directly participate in it.
A verdict was delivered on Wednesday as part of the second phase of the trial which was based on a supplementary chargesheet filed against 11 individuals. The NIA court had found six individuals guilty of attempted murder, conspiracy, and various other offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and acquitted five others.
In the first phase of the trial in 2015, the court had already delivered a verdict on 31 accused individuals, finding 13 guilty and acquitting 18 others.
All the accused individuals were activists of the Popular Front of India, a notorious organization that was banned in 2022 after being accused of insurgent activities.
The 11 accused named in the supplementary chargesheet were initially on the run during the first trial but later either surrendered or were arrested by the NIA. It is worth noting that the first accused, Savad, who was actively involved in chopping off the professor's palm, is still at large.
Earlier In March, a controversy erupted over a question paper for an internal college exam at Newman College, Thodupuzha.
Professor T J Joseph, who had allegedly insulted the Prophet in the question paper, was later attacked by an armed gang on 4 July 2010. The incident led to protests by Muslim outfits in the state, resulting in Joseph's arrest. He was later granted bail in the case.
According to the prosecution, a gang armed with weapons and explosive materials attacked Professor Joseph with the intention to kill him. They chopped off his right palm using an axe.
The accused individuals were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the Explosive Substances Act.
Following the Kerala Police's investigation, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe and determined that the attack was an act of terrorism.
As a result, the accused individuals were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
On Wednesday (12 July), 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 the charges.
Joseph, who is now retired had responded to the verdict by expressing his belief that the conviction of the accused does not equate to justice for the victim. He stated that the individuals who physically attacked him were merely instruments, and the true culprits who planned and orchestrated the crime are still at large.
Joseph emphasised that he has the same curiosity as any ordinary citizen regarding the outcome of this verdict. It is worth noting that Joseph's injured palm was successfully sutured at a hospital in Kochi.
In Joseph's opinion, the accused were themselves victims of a "barbaric rule".
He emphasised the importance of embracing modernity, humanity, and scientific thinking. Joseph acknowledged the numerous losses he suffered as a result of the incident but expressed hope that his trauma would serve as a catalyst for the emergence of a new generation free from the influence of archaic norms.
The attack on Joseph occurred in Muvattupuzha, Ernakulam district, just meters away from his home. He was ambushed while returning from Sunday prayers at a local church.
Shockingly, the assailants dragged him out of his car and assaulted him in the presence of his mother and sister. In an attempt to instill fear, the gang also detonated an explosive.
Following the attack on Joseph, the Catholic management of Newman College took the decision to suspend him from his position. Despite widespread demands from the state government, civil society, and the university for Joseph's 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 the Church's reluctance to reinstate him. Joseph expressed that the Church's inaction had caused him more pain than the attack carried out by the PFI.
After Salomy's death, there were widespread protests against the Church. However, on 31 March 2014, the day of his retirement, Joseph was reinstated.
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