In Kerala, ‘Islam-Isai Bhai Bhai’

published on October 14, 2010

Church college sacks lecturer for backing hacked prof
VR Jayaraj | Kochi – Daily Pioneer

The management of Church-run Newman College of Thodupuzha, Kerala suspended Dr Stephen Cheriyil , Reader of the Department of Botany, for criticizing Principal Dr TM Joseph with regard to the developments that led to the July 4 Islamist attack on his colleague Prof TJ Joseph.

The management of the college run by the Kothamangalam Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church had dismissed Prof Joseph from service with effect from September 1 for preparing a “blasphemous” question paper which invited the wrath of the Muslim community. The Islamists had cut off his right hand for this.

When the college management cancelled the examination using the “blasphemous” question paper, Dr Stephen Cheriyil had advised the principal and the management to inform the Government and the media about this. The Islamist attack on Prof Joseph would not have taken place if they heeded to his suggestions, he had said.

However, the college management said the suspension of Dr Cheriyil had no connection with the issue of the controversial question paper or the dismissal of Prof Joseph. It said he was suspended pending enquiry for humiliating the principal at a public forum.

The management said that Dr Cheriyil had been served a show-cause notice with regard to this on the basis of some written complaints. Though the lecturer had replied to the show-cause notice, the explanations were not satisfactory, it said. It also alleged that the lecturer had given copies of his reply to political leaders, police and others.

According to sources, Dr Stephen Cheriyil had severely criticized the principal and certain lecturers who were incompetent to discharge their duties as teachers. He had also repeated his criticisms against the management and the principal in his reply to the show-cause notice.

Dr Cheriyil had received telephonic threats following his criticism against the author of a provocative letter published in a newspaper with regard to the attack on the professor. He had also lodged a complaint over this with the police’s Cybel Cell.

The suspended lecturer said that he had been part of a delegation that visited Muslim League leader Panakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal in connection with the case of the attack against the professor and he had collected money for his relief. This could also have been the reason for his suspension, he said.

Meanwhile, the University Grants Commission has sought explanation from the management of Newman College for dismissing Prof Joseph but it is yet to reply to the memo. The UGC is viewing the dismissal of the professor as against the procedures.

Also, the Universities Appellate Tribunal has ordered issuance of notice to the college management over a petition filed by Prof Joseph against his dismissal. The tribunal would take up the petition for further hearing on October 29.

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