Thursday brought some relief for Kerala lecturer T J Joseph, whose right hand was chopped off by suspected activists of the Popular Front of India, a Muslim fundamentalist outfit, for setting a question paper that allegedly made insulting references to Prophet Mohammad.
The Mahathma Gandhi University in Kottayam in central Kerala slammed Newman's College for terminating 53-year-old Joseph's services following the attack on July 4. The university has told the college to reconsider its decision to sack Joseph.
"It is illegal. Procedures were not adhered to while dismissing the teacher. The university syndicate has directed the college to reconsider its decision," Vice Chancellor Rajan Gurukkal said.
The college had drawn flak from various quarters for sacking Joseph, but refused to take him back. A college spokesman said he would react once the college gets the university's directive in writing.
But the Kothamangalam diocese, which runs the private college, rejected the professor's plea to be reinstated.
"Even in the latest letter, he has not admitted his mistake. How can we take him back? Let the court decide," a spokesman of the diocese said.
Joseph had described the college's action more painful than the attack carried out by fundamentalists. Writers, academics and students have rallied round the lecturer condemning the college's action.
Recovering from the twin shock of being maimed and sacked, Joseph is straining to practice writing with his left hand and undergoing physiotherapy sessions at home in Ernakulam district.
"We are happy that the university finally heard us. We hope justice will prevail," his Sister Maria Stella said.