T J Joseph: The truth behind the silence
by R L Francis on 21 Sep 2010 5 Comments

The Bishop of the Catholic diocese in Kerala’s Ernakulum district, George Punnakotil, has turned a deaf ear to the demands to restore the job of sacked professor T.J. Joseph. Prof Joseph was employed by Newman College, run by diocese. Considering the resentment in the larger section of the minority, Prof Joseph has been suspended for one year. The Leftist government of Kerala had registered a case under Section 275, accusing him of spreading communal disharmony. He was sent to jail and subsequently released on bail.


On 4 July, while returning from Muvatatupujha church, activists allegedly associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) had cut and severed Joseph’s right hand completely, allegedly because he had used the word ‘Mohammad’ in a B.Com. question paper in an indecent way. Fanatics accused him of blasphemy and punished him in their own way. The Church was shocked and due to fear it did not speak a word against this atrocity. Yet the same church has always been extremely vocal against Hindu ‘extremist’ organisations – none of which can match the performance of the followers of the religion of peace, incidentally. The church that ran an agitation against Love Jihad is biting the dust on the issue of sheer barbarism.  


According to Chief Minister V.S. Achutanandan, Kerala is fast becoming a hub of Islamic extremism. Muslim fanatics want to establish a kind of emirate in the next two decades. Youths are being offered money for conversion and some Jihad organisations are encouraging Muslim youths to marry non-Muslim girls. The entire cost of the wedding is borne by the Jihadi organisations.


The Kerala church has charged that a large section of Christian girls are targets of this Love Jihad. After marriage, these girls are packed off the Gulf countries, where their fate is uncertain. Both Muslims and Christians are competing with each other in the race to enhance their population in the state. A few years ago, some Catholic dioceses had issued an appeal to the laity to have more and more children and had assured that the church would bear the entire costs of running their families!


For the last few decades, Kerala has been patronising the extremism of both Muslims and Christians. Hindus are being divided in many ways and government has helped in this process of community fragmentation. There have been violent struggle with the RSS cadres. The Hindu population is dwindling due to fear. Though they still have more numbers than the Muslims and Christians, they do not constitute solid vote-banks and so their reach and say in government is limited. Muslims and Christians have more impact on Kerala politics.  


Yet Achutanandan’s statement shows that now even the Leftists are aware of the impending danger from Islamic radicalism. Those who cut off the hand of Prof Joseph have revealed that Taliban-style courts are being run in the state, where decisions are taken only on the basis of the Shariat. The decision to disjoint the teacher’s hand was taken by one such court.


Intelligence sources suggest that the Popular Front of India is the new face of the National Democratic Front. The PFI is viewed with suspicion since its establishment. The Union Home Ministry reportedly sent letters to the state home departments and respective Director Generals of Police to keep an eye on the activities of this organisation. Independent writer and expert on Muslim issues, Muzaffar Hussain, says the Popular Front of India is trying to increase the Muslim population in the entire state of Kerala as is the situation in Mallappuram district. They are getting lots of foreign donations from Emirate countries.


Lakshadweep, close to Kerala, is a Muslim dominated island. The US, Pakistan and Sri Lanka want influence on the island. Muslims from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are settling on the island in large numbers. PFI is very active on this front. It feels that Love Jihad is a balloon that has been pin-pricked, so the only other ways left are terror, infiltration and conversion, in order to make Kerala a Muslim-dominated state.   


The Church has started playing a highly active role in state politics. In the last election, it indirectly grabbed five Lok Sabha seats from the Congress and issued a fatwa to the Christian community not to vote for the Leftists in the election. What will be the outcome of the next assembly election is clear from local election results. The Left government in the state tried to tighten the noose on the Church many times in the last four years. On the issue of nuns’ suicides, the government took a strict view which enraged Church. It has now decided to oust the Left government at any cost, for it does not want any check on conversion and its lucrative education business.  


The main roadblock for the Church is Jihadi terrorism. The Church and Muslim organizations are flexing their muscles to have more say in politics. Hindus are nowhere in this process as they are not an effective vote-bank. In northern Kerala, minor incidents of conflicts have been reported. Despite this fact, the Church has shown great restraint in the matter of Prof T.J. Joseph. To appease the hardliners in the state, it turned down the appeal of the Christian intelligentsia and also rejected the appeal by retd Chief Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. The former judge had warned that the Church administration is playing to the tune of extremists and had distanced itself from Jesus’ message of kindness, love and humanity.  


Prof George Punnakotil has justified the suspension of Prof Joseph. It wants to project that the Church was not a partner in Joseph’s alleged misdemeanour, which led to the barbaric atrocity. The Church does not show the same restraint regarding Hindu Gods who are always derided by Christian priests.  


It seems that in order to expand its territory, the Church has shaken hands with Muslim extremists as both consider Hindus their main enemy. The Indian Church condemned the decision to burn the Holy Quran in Florida. But both the Church and Islam target Hindus for conversion. In order to achieve its objectives, the Church is demanding the implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report. The Church is willing to sacrifice many Josephs in order to achieve its ends. This strategy of the Church will backfire. If the Church does not mend its way, it will end in a blind alley.  


The author is president, Poor Christian Liberation Movement

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