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.