Lecturer T J Joseph just wants his job back
Lecturer T J Joseph, whose right hand was chopped off allegedly by activists of a radical outfit, has decided to approach the University Appellate Tribunal after the dioceses backed his sacking by his college and blamed him for an "irresponsible act".
With the church-run Newman college management unrelenting despite the university's directive to revoke the dismissal order, Joseph's sister Stella said her brother has decided to approach the tribunal for reinstating him.
"I do not want do anything against the Catholic church. But the college management is forcing me to go to the tribunal," Stella said quoting Joseph.
Even after getting his dismissal order, Joseph had written to the college management to pardon him.
"He has touched the feet of the Bishop and the manager of the college seeking pardon," she said.
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Image: TJ Joseph
'The entire family was upset and scared'
Amid public outcry against the college's action, Bishop of the dioceses George Punnakottil said the college was accused of being an accomplice in hurting the religious feelings of Muslims and its management had to take a decision to distance itself from the act of Joseph.
In a pastoral letter, which would be read out in the churches during Sunday mass, he said the attack on Joseph did not nullify the "crime" committed by him, but such an "irresponsible act" cannot be expected from the lecturer.
"We stand for secularism and we do not want to offend anybody," the bishop said, adding Joseph can approach court and the management would abide by its decision.
Stella, a nun, said she had also met the Bishop on July 2, before the attack, on behalf of her brother.
The family is also upset by the pastoral letter written by Kothamangalam Bishop against Joseph. Stella said the entire family was "upset and scared".
Image: The Newmans College
Gross violation of procedures?
Joseph is slowly recovering after his right hand was chopped off allegedly by radical outfit Popular Front of India on July four for preparing a question paper which contained some alleged derogatory references to Prophet Mohammed.
The lecturer is now undergoing physiotherapy, she said.
The Syndicate of the Mahatma Gandhi University has found that the action against the lecturer was "gross violation of procedures" and asked the management to take appropriate further steps in accordance with law, justice and equity."
Stella said the management was aware of the threat to Joseph but had failed to inform them. 'If the family had been informed, we would have taken police protection or moved off to a safer place', she said, adding, the management knew about the threat to his life. "Why did they not inform the family?"
Stella said her brother had 'no other choice' but to approach the tribunal.
The lecturer has to travel daily from Muvattupzuha to Kochi for physiotherapy at the Specialist hospital and reaches home late each night she said.
Image: Two suspects in the case, Jaffar and KK Ali, after emerge from the court
Writers and academics rally around Joseph
Meanwhile, police arrested about 30 activists of the Joint Christian Council, an anti church forum, which took out a procession at Kothamanagalam demanding Joseph's reinstatement.
Though the activists first tried to take out the march from the R C Cathedral, the church authorities did not permit it.
They then marched from a little distance away and raised slogans against the church, police said. Some faithful tried to prevent the processionists following which the police intervened and arrested council activists.
Joseph, who was teaching Malayalam literature, first faced suspension after the question paper row earlier this year and dismissal on September 1 on the ground that he had hurt the religious sentiments of a community.
The college authorities had justified their action, holding that it was necessary to assert the secular credentials of the educational institutions run by the church.
Writers and academics, mostly from pro-Left circles have rallied around Joseph, condemning the college's action as harsh and inhuman as he had suffered physical assault from fanatics.
Image: Mahatma Gandhi University gate