Thirteen members of the Islamic Jihadist group The Popular Front of India (PFI) have all been found guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and lopping off the hand of a university professor in Southeast India. As reported by The Independent (of London, England) on May 10, 2015 and also by India’s New Delhi Television (NDTV) online news portal on May 8, 2015, Professor TJ Joseph of Newman College in the town of Thodupuzha, Kerala, India has finally seen his assailants found guilty and sentenced to various lengths of incarceration.
Considered guilty of blasphemy by the Islamists in 2010, the professor of the Malayalam language was testing students majoring in Bachelor of Commerce (Business Administration) at the Catholic college, and had assigned them a passage from a film screenplay in Malayalam language for them to correctly punctuate. However, the militant jihadists viewed things quite differently.
The terrorists claim they were taking retribution for Joseph’s exam which featured an imaginary conversation between The Almighty and a character called Muhammad. According to the linguist, he claimed he had named the character Muhammad in the exam passage after a famous Indian film director, not the founder of Islam.
As The Indian Express noted in 2010, film director PT Kunju Muhammed explained that in his 1999 film Garshom, the dialogue was from his past experience with “a madman who used to speak to God.” In homage to the much respected movie maker, Professor Joseph took it upon himself to tag the madman with the common name of Muhammed. With the PFI under the assumption Joseph was insulting the 7th century Arabian warlord who founded Islam, they took exception to the character not once but twice being referred to as a dog:
Muhammad: Creator! Creator!
God: What is it, you son of a bitch?
Muhammad: A mackerel, if cut, would be how many pieces?
God: How many times have I told you that there would be three pieces, you dog?
As Joseph related, while he, his mother and sister were driving home from attending a Catholic Mass in July 2010, it was then that their car was stopped by the terrorists. “As the car was locked from inside, they broke the glass and pulled me out,” he told NDTV. “The attackers injured me all over and severed my right hand.”
It was after the attack that local police arrested Joseph on charges of “outraging religious feelings,” although he was later acquitted of all charges. Despite the criminal charges against him being thrown out, Newman College suspended him from work. Not long after, Joseph claims death threats started almost immediately thereafter, noting he had escaped three attempted attacks before his eventual kidnapping and seeing his right hand was chopped off.
He was allowed back into the classroom until November 2013. The Islamic jihadists also indirectly took the life of Professor Joseph’s wife, who eventually committed suicide after seeking treatment for stress and depression.