First crucial arrest in prof attack case

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on August 21, 2010

Forty-six days after the gruesome Taliban-model attack on Prof TJ Joseph at Muvattupuzha, the Kerala Police on Friday arrested an activist of the organization, Islamist Popular Front of India (PFI), with direct involvement in the attack for the first time even as reports said the State leadership of the outfit could have played a significant role in the incident.

PFI operative Shamsuddin of Perumbavoor was arrested from Palakkad while returning from his hideout in Thiruchirappally, Tamil Nadu, the police said as sources indicated that he was in police custody for the past three days but his arrest was recorded only on Friday. With this, the total number of PFI men to be arrested in the case went up to 20.

Police sources said Shamsuddin admitted to them that he was one of the seven activists who had attacked Prof Joseph on July 4 at Muvattupuzha. The professor’s right hand was cut off in a Taliban-model attack for preparing a question paper that allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammad.

Shamsuddin had been involved in several PFI-sponsored attacks earlier. He was one of the key accused in the case relating to the murder of RSS activist Kaladharan at Binanipuram, Aluva in 2001. He was arrested in that case but was released on bail later. With Shamsuddin in custody, the remaining PFI men directly involved in the attack could be caught soon, the police said.

The Islamist told the police that he had taken part in the attack as per the instructions given by Nasser, the chief conspirator and mastermind behind the incident. Yunus, who was arrested on July 24 for helping the assailants, had also said that a total of seven persons had carried out the attack on the professor.

The arrest of Shamsuddin came just when the police were drawing sharp criticisms for not being able to arrest even a single extremist directly involved in the attack even one-and-a-half months after the incident. There were criticisms that the police were unable to nab the real culprits due to political interference.

Meanwhile, sources in the police indicated that they were in receipt of more information suggesting that the State leadership of the PFI could have played a vital role in the attack. The PFI leadership had been consistently claiming that the organization had nothing to do with the incident and that action would be taken if any activist had any role in it.

The police have decided to question Abdul Hameed, State general secretary of the Popular Front, once again in connection with the attack. They had questioned him for a whole day on Wednesday. P Koya, PFI’s national council member and editor of its organ Thejas and Nazeeruddin Elamaram, State president were questioned on Monday and Thursday respectively.

Police sources said Abdul Hameed was at Irattupetta near Muvattupuzha when the attack took place on July 4. They have also learned that the plan to attack the professor had originated in Irattupetta. There were reports that the attack was carried out as per a decree of a Taliban-model Sharia court.

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