Professor’s hand-chopping case: NIA court awards life imprisonment to 3 convicts
A Special NIA court in Kerala on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment three of the six persons convicted in the sensational 2010 case in which a college professor’s hand was chopped off. The court termed it a “terror act” for which the convicts “don’t deserve any leniency”. The right hand of T J Joseph, professor of Newman College in Thodupuzha in Idukki district, was chopped off by pro-Jehadi activists of the now-banned radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) on July 4, 2010.
Special NIA court Judge Anil K Bhaskar sentenced Sajil, Nasar, and Najeeb to life terms under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for the offence of being part of a terrorist organization. The remaining three convicts — Noushad, P P Moideen Kunhu, and Ayoob — were sentenced to three years for harbouring the offenders in the case.
Act of Terror
“What has been committed is a terrorist act. The nation and its citizenry also suffered a lot. Terrorism has been recognized as one of the six most severe threats to civilization, security, and humanity. The act of the accused is a challenge to the secular fabric of our nation. “It attempts to establish a parallel religious judicial system which is absolutely illegal, illegitimate, and unconstitutional. It has no place in independent India under our constitutional scheme. A country governed by the rule of law cannot fathom it,” the court said in its order on the sentence.
A deterrent for the future
The court also said that “this most uncivilized act” of the accused “cannot be countenanced at all”. “Therefore, from the nation’s standpoint, the sentence to be imposed shall be a deterrent, and the convicts don’t deserve any leniency,” the court said. The special court also said that citizens have a fundamental right not to be subjected to any kind of fear or threat or danger at the hands of anti-social elements. “The accused, by their violent terrorist activity, had really struck terror in the people’s minds. To avoid repeating similar incidents, imposing stringent punishment on the accused is highly necessary,” said the judgment, convicting the accused persons belonging to the pro-jehadi now banned outfit PFI.
Who are the perpetrators?
Sajil was also sentenced by the special court to 10 years each for the offences of committing a terrorist act and conspiracy to commit a terror act under the UAPA, attempted murder under the IPC, and use of explosives under the Explosive Substances Act. The court declined to give him any leniency on health grounds as sought by Sajil, saying that his medical problems can be addressed by giving directions to the jail superintendent to do the needful.
Nasar and Najeeb were also sentenced by the court to 10 years for each of the offences of attempted murder and use of explosives. All the sentences are to run concurrently, the court said. A total fine of Rs.4 lakh was also imposed by the court on the convicts and directed that it be paid to the victim — Joseph. The six were convicted by the court on Wednesday in the second phase of the trial in the case.
In the first phase of the trial in the case, 10 persons were convicted for offences under the UAPA as well as the Explosive Substances Act and the IPC, and three others were found guilty of harbouring the offenders. While convicting the six in the second phase of the trial, the court had on Wednesday noted that the second accused Sajil took part in the attack while the third accused Nasar, who was the main conspirator in the case, and fifth accused Najeeb had planned the “terrorist act” but did not take part in it. The attack took place while the professor was returning home with his family after attending Sunday mass at a church in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district.
The attackers, a group of seven people, pulled the professor out of the vehicle, assaulted him, and then his right hand was chopped off by the main accused Savad who is still absconding. According to the police officials who initially probed the case, the accused wanted to kill Joseph for allegedly derogatory remarks about religion in a question paper he set for the BCom semester examination at Newman College.
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