Barbaric act

The brutal attack on a professor of a college in Kerala last Sunday when he was returning from a church service was shocking in its intent and barbarity. His right palm was chopped off by a gang that waylaid and attacked him. He sustained other injuries too; his mother and sister were also attacked. He had made a controversial reference to Prophet Mohammed in an internal question paper prepared for students of the college in March this year. The reference is considered to have been derogatory. All sections of society had condemned the professor’s action which hurt religious sentiments. He was suspended by the college management when the controversy broke out and was arrested. The matter is before the court and if the charges are proved he stands to earn punishment. There is still some confusion about at what stage the offending words found their way into the question paper. Whether he was solely responsible for the offence or not is yet to be decided. In any case a public apology was made and it was made clear that there was no intention to hurt the feelings of any community.

But the punishment meted out to him by the gang of attackers was terrible and deserves the strongest condemnation. It is difficult to imagine that such cruelty and bestiality is resorted to a democratic society. Physical punishment of the kind the professor was subjected to has rarely been heard of in the country. It flouts the rule of law and all norms of civilised conduct. Nobody should be allowed to take the law into their hands and punish offenders for their crimes, however serious the offences are. Such violence becomes all the more dangerous when religious sentiments are involved. It can lead to communal discord and go out of control.

Some of the attackers have been arrested and the police are on the lookout for others. They reportedly belong to an organisation called the Popular Front of India and had planned the attack for over a month. A number of Muslim organisations have rightly condemned their misdeed, asserting that it was most un-Islamic, and demanded the strongest punishment for them. Members of the Jamaat-e-Islami donated blood for the professor in hospital. The culture of intolerance and violence that has been growing in the country has created the environment for the dastardly act. Only very few subscribe to that culture but they poison the society.

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