Monday, July 05, 2010

Fanatics chop off teachers hand in Kerala

Islamist radicals in India's southern state of Kerala chopped off the hand of a college lecturer who was accused of putting a derogatory reference to the Prophet Mohammed in an exam, a newspaper reports.

TJ Joseph was returning from a church service in the central Ernakulam district on Sunday when he was attacked in "a horrific instance of Talibanism," the Times of India said in its report.

"We had just got into our car when a van pulled up. Around eight people with swords and knives emerged and pulled out Joseph after smashing the windscreen," his sister Mary Stella, a nun, told the daily.

"They chopped off his right hand and stabbed him in the left thigh," she said, adding that the assailants fled after detonating bombs.

The 52-year-old lecturer was admitted in a private hospital where his condition was described as serious.

In March, Islamic groups held protests against Joseph over part of an exam for undergraduate commerce students. They claimed that a test question had insulted the prophet.

The question quoted director PT Kunjumuhammed discussing a scene from his film Garshom in which a dialogue appears between the Prophet Mohammed and God.

Two men, said to be activists of the religious Popular Front organisation, were arrested after the attack on Sunday.

Indian security officials said Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in Kerala, where Muslims, Christians and Hindus have lived in amity for centuries.

Some analysts have warned that Kerala could emerge as a base for militants with radical Islamic organizations holding sway, particularly in the northern Malabar area.

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