Palm-chopped professor ready to forgive attackers

Kochi (Matters India): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court is set to announce its verdict on the notorious palm-chopping case on Monday, but the victim himself no longer harbors any grudge against his assailants.

Professor T J Joseph’s forgiveness however doesn’t extend to the government and the political class who, he claims, have been criminally indifferent to the social isolation, financial dire straits and, to top it all, his wife’s suicide that he has had to endure in the incident’s aftermath.

Joseph’s right palm was chopped off by suspected Islamist militants in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory references to Prophet Muhammad in an exam paper he prepared. “I have forgiven the people who attacked me and chopped off my palm. Life has dealt so many unexpected blows on me that the pain that they have given me is almost insignificant now,” Joseph, partaking the Easter spirit, said.

“My interest in the case is just like any other person. The verdict is not going to make any difference to me personally,” he said. Suspected Popular Front of India activists hacked his right hand while he was returning home with his family from church on July 4, 2010. The NIA has charge-sheeted 37 persons in the case, of which 31 persons underwent trial while the remaining six have been absconding, The Times of India reported.

Soon after the incident, the management of the Christian-run Newman College where he worked as the head of Malayalam department sacked him on the grounds that he had hurt religious sentiments. Even as he was fighting a case against the college, his wife Salomi (48) who stood by him during trying times committed suicide in 2014 as the family was facing severe financial problems.

Within days of her death, the college decided to take him back before his retirement on March 31. However, he is yet to get the pension benefits. “The college authorities revoked my dismissal and I joined the college before my retirement date. But the government is yet to regularise my reinstatement and therefore I am yet to get my pension and salary dues,” he said.

An upset Joseph said that the government has been unkind to him. “I had to spend around Rs 20 lakh on treatment. But the government has only given me Rs 4 lakh. Despite several letters, there has been no response,” he said. “On the contrary, the government has spent lakhs of rupees on the case and the accused but as a victim I have been made to suffer for no fault of mine,” he added.

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