The Kerala government's silence on the fate of Professor T J Joseph whose hand was chopped off by thugs from the Popular Front of India (PFI) and has now been sacked from his job shows how much the politics of opportunism has taken root in the ruling Left Democratic Front.
The college where he worked has come up with the reprehensible suggestion that he might be reinstated only if the Muslim community, which he allegedly offended with a perceived insult to the Prophet, forgave him. This puts us in the category of countries where people have to pay the price of religious intolerance with their limbs and, often, lives.
The Kerala government has been dithering over a probe into this crime and has uttered no word of censure to the educational institution that has heaped insult to injury on Professor Joseph. If the so-called custodians of the Muslim community were so exercised over Professor Joseph's actions, they could have filed a case against him. They instead took the law into their own hands.
The college had no business to arrogate to itself the task of telling him to seek forgiveness from anyone. The appalling inaction of the government could well be interpreted to mean that it is reluctant to take on these fundamentalists who claim to speak for the Muslim community. This gives them licence to act as the moral police in future. If the CPI(M) thinks that appeasing these fanatics will pay political dividends, it is sadly mistaken.
As its experience in the last Lok Sabha elections shows, flirting with the likes of fanatics like the People's Democratic Party's Abdul Nasser Madani hurt the party's secular credentials and it was humiliated in the polls.
The Achuthanandan government as well as the politburo of the CPI(M) has acquitted itself very poorly by their inability to stand up to a bunch of hooligans who do not enjoy any popular support. The price of years of inaction has already led to the creeping Talibanisation of Kerala's picturesque Malabar region. Here fundamentalists have been trying to enforce their writ through terror tactics.
It is still not too late to pull back from the brink by taking strong action against these so-called fly-by-night religious organisations as well as educational institutions which flout the rule book. The state can in no way be seen to complicit with those who consider themselves judge, jury and executioner.
A good start would be to ban the PFI and ensure that Professor Joseph gets gainful employment. Otherwise, God's own country will be seen as perpetuating dangerous and sinister deities.