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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Prof TJ Joseph narrates how Kerala police hounded his son

Prof. T J Joseph, who lost his soul for a crime he didn’t commit, epitomizes Kerala’s conscience. His autobiography, ‘Attupokatha Ormakal’ (A Thousand Cuts in English), is eye-opening. Recently, the unfortunate Professor recounted his misadventures one by one through the show Charitram Enniloode (History Through Me) on Safari TV by Santhosh George Kulangara. The incident happened five years before two terrorists stormed the Charlie Hebdo office in France and killed 11 for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohd.

Jihadis pounced on Santhosh, and he had to temporarily close the comments section on his YouTube channel, which had never happened before. Santhosh is a Keralite globetrotter who started solo journeys outside Bharat in 1997. Asianet telecasted his experiences and splendid sights of those journeys as ‘Sancharam.’ He joined Youtube in 2013.

Popular Front of India (PFI) terrorists assaulted Joseph on 4 July 2010. He was a Malayalam professor at Newman College, a Christian minority institution near Thodupuzha in Idukki, Kerala. His assailants accused him of blasphemy, waylaid his vehicle, chopped off his right hand, and stabbed him in the left thigh. They attacked his mother and sister, detonated bombs, and fled.

Back then, the then Home Minister of Kerala and communist leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan refused to accept that PFI was passing Taliban Model attacks. The then minister and current CPM Polit Bureau member M A Baby had stated that Joseph Master would be hand-cuffed and paraded in the street.

Instead of protecting the Professor, Kerala police allegedly shielded the terrorists. Local politicians, the media, and radical Islamist organizations hounded Joseph, which they continue to do today. Aftereffects of such policies are being felt in Kerala society even today.

Speaking of the extremists, at a press conference in Delhi, Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan later revealed the truth. He said: “They (Islamic fundamentalists) want to turn Kerala into a Muslim-majority state in 20 years. They are using money and other inducements to convert people to Islam. They even marry women outside their community (grooming jihad) to increase the Muslim population.”

Joseph claimed he never dreamed he would be accused of blasphemy when he asked students to punctuate a dialogue between a character and the Islamist god. He swore he did not think the name Muhammad would be interpreted as the Prophet Muhammad. But with that one question, he lost his palm, his traumatized wife (Salomi) slipped into depression and committed suicide, and the Christian church management threw him out of his job. With expertise in just Malayalam, he was stuck in Kerala for life.

Prof. Joseph had to go on the run when Islamic fundamentalists became agitated over a crime he did not commit. Joseph described how local police (including Christian officers) satisfied their anger at not getting him by abusing his wife and brutally torturing their son and friends. This is his story, as stated on Safari TV.

Extra-Judicial Torture

Hoping Prof. Joseph would surrender, Kerala police took his son Mithun into extra-judicial custody. The Thodupuzha police subjected the 21-year-old B.Tech student to third-degree custody torture without recording his arrest anywhere.

Incidentally, all those officers continued service, and some remain ‘properly serving’ secular Keralites. All three that Joseph mentioned were Abrahamics, including two Christians. (Coincidentally, even while the whole world turned against the Professor, only Hindus and the BJP stood with him since 2010.)

Thodupuzha Sub-Inspector (SI) Shinto P Kurian stripped Mithun naked, stretched his legs, and brutally whipped him with a cane. Bringing the young man to his knees, Kurian sat on the chair, cradled Mithun’s head between his legs, and assaulted him with his elbows. Mithun stopped breathing when the policeman named Uwais grabbed and lifted him by the neck. A Deputy Superintendent (DySP) named Kuriakose often arrived in a frenzy and pushed and abused the young man.

Prof. Joseph also said that after the police raided the house under the leadership of SI Kurian, many items, including handicrafts, were missing. The police told Salomi that her husband would vacate this world pretty soon. Joseph mentioned that Kurian verbally abused the lady publicly even after leaving the house.

Mithun was also subjected to unbearable mental torture by the police. If an unidentified body is found somewhere, it will be that of Joseph; they told his son, who was only 21 years old. They accused Joseph of living with another woman. Kerala police shifted Mithun frequently and tortured him without even giving him drinking water. Mithun’s torture ended ultimately when he had to be hospitalized.

Public Seeks Action

Citizens have raised a strong campaign on social media demanding action against those who tortured Mithun, including Kurian, Uwais, and Kuriakose. Shinu Varghese, a social media activist, notes, “It was not in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that an innocent youth had to undergo such brutal torture. It happened when V S Achuthanandan was the Chief Minister, and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was the Home Minister. Kerala Police carried out emergency model physical violence on a young man to appease Islamist religious fanatics.”

Others pointed out that Kurian is a corrupt officer still in service despite many accusations. Kurian has also been accused of standing up for rape-accused Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The incident happened in 2020.

Kurian was the SI of Kuravilangad when the police registered a case against the bishop on the nun’s complaint. Shortly before this, Kurian allegedly sided with the bishop’s supporters and reported a lawsuit against the nun (Mulakkal allegedly sodomized) and her family! By the time it turned controversial, Kurian had left on leave.

Kurian returned after 45 days of vacation. This was when a nun who witnessed the Mulakkal rape case received threatening phone calls from Kurianad St. Ann’s Ashram Prior Fr. James Erthayil. The priest offered her land and money to withdraw from the case.

Vaikom DySP, while investigating the matter, found Kurian’s official vehicle parked inside the Ashram. Kurian was then suspended based on the report given by the Special Branch. The SI was transferred to Kottayam District Crime Records Bureau (DCRB). Suspiciously, Kurian was soon promoted and appointed the Marangattupilly Station House Officer (SHO).

Did his preemptive action lead to Mulakkal’s acquittal? We might never know.

Arrogance & Disciplinary Issues?

In March 2012, Kurian allegedly maltreated Kannan, an 11-year-old boy, at the Ponkunnam police station. Kerala police had asked Kannan’s parents to report at the police station in connection with a fake sexual harassment case. Kurian claimed the minor boy misbehaved with a 16-year-old girl. Police authorities failed to initiate any action against the officer. Congress was in power back then.

Last week, allegations arose that SHO Kurian physically assaulted a Civil Police Officer (CPO) inside the Kanjirappally police station. It happened while some accused persons and other policemen were watching. The CPO was in uniform when Kurian grabbed him by his belt, shook, threatened, and abused him. The CPO sought information about an accused involved in a case while the incident happened.

After he complained, the DySP checked the station’s CCTV footage. It is reported that the DySP is convinced that the CPO’s complaint has merit. It is indicated that action may be taken against the Kurian pretty soon. But then again, since it is the Kerala police, anything can happen.

Despite all these accusations, such officers with political patronage continue to serve in the Kerala police. Christian Keralites also demanded action against Kurian and Kuriakose based on Prof. Joseph’s disclosure.

In July 2013, criminal charges were brought against 37 PFI terrorists who assaulted Prof. Joseph, of which 31 subsequently underwent trial in a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court. On 8 May 2015, the court convicted 13 of the defendants, all activists of PFI, ten of whom were condemned to 8 years in jail, and 3 of whom were sentenced to 2 years in prison.

A fine of ₹ 8 lakhs was imposed on the convicted, to be paid to Joseph as compensation. The court acquitted the remaining 18 defendants due to insufficient evidence, while the remaining six are still presumed to abscond.

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