Sunday, September 5, 2010

Prof T.J.Joseph should be pardoned

A teacher of Newman College, Thodupuzha, in Idukki district of Kerala, who was attacked by extremist elements in July on the accusation that he had hurt religious sentiments by setting a question paper with certain blasphemous sentences, was dismissed from service by the college management on Saturday.

T.J. Joseph, who was the head of the college's Malayalam Department, had two more years of service.

The management had suspended him from service in March when the question paper set for an internal examination for B.Com. students created a controversy. A few organisations took to the streets in Thodupuzha and curfew was imposed in the town.

The radical activists, reportedly owing allegiance to the Popular Front of India (PFI), waylaid his car as he was returning home from church, hacked him and chopped off his right palm

The dismissal attracted widespread condemnation in the State. In a statement, six intellectuals, led by poet O.N.V. Kurup, said the teacher had already been harassed for a lapse which took place owing to his carelessness, ignorance or lack of adequate forethought. If it had shocked democratic Kerala, his dismissal was as cruel and inhuman as the chopping off of his hand.

He hoped that the teacher would get the sympathetic support of everyone with conscience.

Other signatories to the statement are K.N .Panikkar, historian, Ninan Koshy, thinker, and the writers U.A. Khadar, P. Valsala and George Onakkkur
from The Hindu

Prof T.J.Joseph has been teaching Malayalam for last 25 years.He was never a controversial figure till March 2010. He had never indulged in activities which can be termed as against or for any particular religion.He drafted a question paper for his 32 students of BCom class. Some thought a question in that paper is hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.That was his 'fault'. As ONV Kurup and other Intellectuals said it can be termed as owing to his carelessness, ignorance or lack of adequate forethought. He had apologised for it.

 But how did a DTP printed 32 copy question paper came to be printed in large scale and distributed in mosques and educational institutions?
 If you find something derogatory to your religion, will you print it in large scale and give it more publicity? Yes one will do it if one wants to get maximum political/religious mileage out of it.
Communalists are always in search of issues for hate/victim hood campaigns. Such issues are their fuel and they will try to give maximum publicity to it.But in this issue of Prof T.J Joseph my feeling is many secularists also fell into the trap laid by communalists.Without looking deep into the matter many were accusing Prof Joseph of deliberate mischief. In an article in the new issue of Mathrubhoomi weekly Prof Joseph has explained in detail how the question came into being.His explanations are reasonable for any secular minded person.
Prof Joseph's mistake was lack of adequate forethought.He can and should be pardoned. Let us hope that saner voices from Muslim community will be brave enough to rise against fundamentalist/communalist ideologies and pardon Prof Joseph accepting his apology.
If we allow the communal organisations to dictate terms in Kerala civil society, our cultural atmosphere may soon resemble that of Arabian Gulf States or Gujarat.


  1. Dr, all this is a drama... Muslims are stupids waiting to be offended by everything that is happening in this world.. They themselves are their own diggers..

    T. J Joseph was wrong,ay it be intentional or unintentional..If he had apologized or if the college has punished him to a moderate extend,like say suspension for a week or so, it should ,or rather IT MUST HAVE ended with that..

    some bloody so called guardians of religion cut his hand.. The community leaders should have come forward and asked the college to stop with punishments..

    college authorities say that Prof didn't give explanation. I don't know..He can go to court . He can come back..Not a big deal..

    But from the bottom of my heart,let me tell you charakan,though i don't support what happened to Prof,the incident has sent away a message that you can't just play with Muslims for ever and ever.. Yes,I don't support the act of cutting the hand, but the incident has atleast made some school christian managements near my house,who earlier banned headscarf,has permitted the same now..why?

    I don't understand the so-called secularism in banning headscarf when the same nuns who run the school come in their religious dress..If they too were wearing saree,like normal teachers,i could understand..

    If they say " We will make rules as we like in our school" ,then too i would understand,bcoz it is their school,if you don't like it,go somewhere else..But all this hungama is done in the name of secularism and what not...How fair is that?

    Ranted a lot.. I have lot to say,but I should stop. Joseph should be taken back,bcoz otherwise,it would sent the message that what popular front did was right..It not not right to cut somebody's hand just like that..

    But tell me aren't such injustices happening in every aspect of life ? Do we raise sound for all of them? Now,the whole world is taking for Joseph,as if he is a martyr..

    To end let me tell you i am not encouraging people to get offended with anything and everything..But a teacher with 25 yrs of experience should have the sense to be sensible and not to create issues unnecessarily.. But using "Muhammed " and "Padachon" as actors was not the right choice,was it? He could have used "Muhmmad" and "Ibrahim". or "Padachon" and "Salim" etc ..HE DIDN'T ,and thatz why i don't sympathize with him...

    It makes me sad that this is happening in Kerala..We are drifting away....
    How you doing Charakan? Keep in touch...

  2. to tell you the truth i wanted to post a blog on this issue, but something prevented me. it became too controversial and i was wary, and on such issues i dont believe in being politically correct.

    the prof did not deserve what he got. my heart goes out to him - perhaps having been in the same profession myself.

    mebbe after all i'll post a blog on this issue myelf -- -

  3. Why does anybody think that the professor should be forgiven? You should be forgiven only if you have committed a crime. What crime did he commit? Exercising his right to speak, something that the Indian Constitution guarantees. Or teaching his students to use their heads? For which crime was he punished.

    First off, the church should be severely reprimanded for this irresponsible act of cowardice. While I do believe that the Catholic church is a cancer that has affected our world, they have done a lot of good things. This was definitely not one of them. To put it mildly, the latest proclamation from the Catholic church was the act of a church which has been emasculated.

    Is offending one's sensibility tantamount to a punishable crime? Then half of India should be in jail. The other half would have no hands and legs.

  4. Nimmy, I think you should read the article by Prof Joseph in Mathrubhoomi weekly. To me it is clear that it was a lack of forethought that lead him to name the character Mohammed. As Joseph wrote, if some one in Kerala names a Character Mohammed no one will first think of the Prophet but will only think of thousands of Mohammads living around us. Still taking into consideration the increased activity of communalists [of all religions] and the fact that the paragraph was a fictional talk between a man and God, he could have been more careful.
    More worrying for me is the fact that instead of original 32 copies it was made into thousands of copies by Islamic communalists just to create hatred and communal polarisation.It was this hate campaign that resulted in hate crime of cutting of the hand.
    The message that is given out by this incident is Kerala Society is becoming more and more communally polarised and this makes communalists of all hues happy..

  5. KPJ,
    Yes you should post about this. In all issues I believe one should be correct to one's conscience.

  6. Anon,
    It is more of a lack of foresight than a crime. He should be pardoned for lack of foresight.

    I did not expect anything different from the Church as they are in the same boat as other communalists.


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