National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court, Kochi, on July 13, 2023, pronounced the following punishment for the accused in connection with the hand chopping of Prof. T.J. Joseph in Ernakulam district. Sajil Makkar, M.K. Nazer and Najeeb are sentenced for life imprisonment whereas M.K. Noushad, P.P. Moideen Kunju and P.M. Ayoob have to serve 3 years in jail. All the six PFI terrorists have to pay Rs 50,000 each as penalty. They should collectively pay Rs 400,000 to the victim.
The Court had found 6 men guilty, on July 12, and 5 were acquitted. It was in connection with the attack, against Professor T.J. Jospeh, Newman College, Thodupuzha, on Jul 4, 2010. College was run by a Catholic Church management. The armed team chopped his right palm off with an axe for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed in an examination question paper. The verdict was in the second phase of the trial based on a supplementary charge sheet filed against 11 accused. In 2015, the court had delivered a verdict against 31 accused, found 13 guilty and acquitted 18. All the 31 accused are the workers of Popular Front of India (PFI), an outfit outlawed in 2022.
The 11 accused named in the supplementary charge sheet were absconding during the first trial. Later on some of them surrendered and the others were arrested by the NIA. Savad, the first accused still absconds. He was said to have chopped the professor’s palm off. He is reported to be hiding abroad.
The controversial question paper invited the wrath of Muslim outfits in the state who took to the streets to protest. Consequently, the professor was arrested and later released on bail. Prosecution alleged, in connection with the attack on the professor, that the gang armed with explosive materials and weapons, attacked him and chopped his palm off and tried to kill him with an axe. The attackers were charged under various sections of IPC, UAPA and the Explosive Substances Act. UAPA was slapped after NIA took over the case from Kerala Police and found that the attack was an act of terrorism.
Sajil Makkar, M.K. Nazer, Najeeb, M.K. Noushad, P.P. Moideen Kunju and P.M. Ayoob are the accused who were found guilty on July 12. Makkar was found to have taken part in the attack whereas Nazer as one of the major conspirators. He is the state committee member of PFI. Shafeeq, Azeez Odakkali, Mohammed Rafi, Manzoor and T P Subair are the accused who are acquitted.
Here are the charges against the accused in a nutshell.
UAPA Section 15 (Activities against the unity and integrity of the country.
Section 16 (Conspiracy)
Section 20 (Membership in the terrorist organisation)
IPC Section 307 (Attempt to murder)
Section 143 (Illegal congregation)
Section 148 (Rioting with lethal weapons)
Section 201 (Destruction of evidences)
Section 212 (Abetment and protection of the accused)
Section 341 (Illegal detention by force)
Section 427 (Destruction)
Section 323 (Cause injuries)
Section 324 (Cause injuries with lethal weapons)
Section 326 (Cause serious injuries with lethal weapons)
Section 506 (Threatening)
Section 153A (Promoting religious enmity)
Section 120B (Criminal conspiracy)
Section 3 (Explosion to endanger the life and properties)
Anti-national activities, under UAPA, against the unity and integrity of the country andv conspiracy. Then all charges against Sajil except for illegal congregation under IPC, abetment and protection of the accused.
Anti-national activities under UAPA against the unity and integrity of the country and conspiracy and all charges against Sajil except for illegal congregation under IPC, Rioting with lethal weapons and destruction of evidences.
Noushad, Moideenkunju and Ayoob
IPC Section 202 (Not informing the authorities despite knowing in advance about the crime)
IPC Section 212 (Abetment and protection of the accused)
IPC 120B (Criminal conspiracy)
Reacting to the judgement, Prof. Joseph told the media that he did his duty as the witness. He is not in a position to judge the merits of the judgment, whether more or less. He said, let the political and social observers judge whether the judgment will be a set back to the terrorism. This earth is for the humanity and the peaceful life of the human beings. He suffered due to the primitive and uncivilized faith. We need a society sans superstitions and uncivilized culture. Referring to the police protection he is having since the attack, he said that a citizen’s life is under threat. We need a society where the people should be able to enjoy free life sans fear and threat. He said that he is not afraid of the further attack from the same forces. He does not comment about the conspirators living underground.
Reacting to the court’s observation of July 12, immediately after hearing it, Prof. Joseph had told that the conviction of an accused does not mean the materialisation of justice to a victim. ‘The people who attacked him are mere tools. The real conspirators behind the attack and those who planned the attack still exist. His curiosity is the same as that of any ordinary citizen’. He said that the accused were the victims of ‘barbaric rule’. It is high time we became modern and cultivate humanity and scientific temper. He told, he had incurred lot of losses. He hopes, his plight will result in bringing a new generation. It will be free from the influence of barbaric norms of the past. Attack was for creating fear. After a few months, the Newman College authorities suspended him. Despite the words from the Government of Kerala, the society and the university, the Cathollic Church management did not reinstate him. There were reports that even his pension papers did not move fast. Naturally he struggled hard to make both ends meet. The family had no other source of income. Salomy, the dejected wife of the victim, committed suicide on March 20, 2014. Those days, Joseph Master had said that Church’s attitude hurt him more than what the PFI assailants did. His wife’s suicide caused an outburst of protests against the Church. He was, at last, reinstated on March 31, 2014, the very same day of his retirement.
Now, let the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) open their eyes and realize the consequence of vote bank politics and minority appeasement.