A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi on Friday sentenced 10 persons to eight years in jail for chopping off the right palm of a college professor for preparing a question paper that allegedly contained blasphemous references against Prophet Mohammed.
Last week, the court had found 13 people guilty in the case. Three other accused would be getting a 2-year jail term. Besides jail, the accused would also have to pay a fine of Rs 8 lakh to the teacher.
Besides attempt to murder, conspiracy and sedition charges were also slapped against the accused.
Though the NIA had sought life term for all accused, the court rejected its contention. The NIA prosecutor said he is not happy with the verdict and will appeal to a higher court.
Earlier, the court had acquitted 18 others for want of evidence. Five others in the case, including the main accused, are absconding.
A lecturer of Malayalam literature at Newman College in Thodupuzha, TJ Joseph was allegedly attacked by activists of the Popular Front of India in July 2010 and the palm of his right hand was chopped off as he was returning home from church with his mother and sister in Ernakulam district's Muvattupuzha.
The attackers told him that he was being punished for the sacrilegious undertones of one of the questions he had framed.
Joseph on bail when he was attacked. He was arrested in April 2010 over the question that some Muslim groups claimed included an insulting reference to the Prophet.
Despite widespread condemnation the incident evoked, the college dismissed Joseph from his job for breach of discipline while he was recuperating in a hospital. Later, his wife committed suicide forcing the college authorities to take him back.
But his perks and dues were delayed citing one reason or the other. Last week, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy had ordered the authorities to release all benefits due for him.
A court had given him a clean chit in the case registered against him for hurting religious sentiments.
This is one of the first cases being probed by the NIA in Kerala.