The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the assault on T.J. Joseph, teacher, Newman College, Thodupuzha, made a major breakthrough by arresting one of the persons directly involved in the case.
Shamsudeen alias Shamsu, 33, of Variathumuri Veedu, Thrikka Ambalam Road, West Vengola, Ponjasseri, Perumbavoor, was arrested from near Coimbatore at 2.30 a.m. on Friday, as he was travelling from Tiruchirapalli by bus.
The SIT had issued a look-out notice seeking information about him on July 22 and someone alerted the police on seeing him boarding the bus. He was produced before the Muvattupuzha Judicial First Class Magistrate later in the day.
The case was that the accused along with six others, all believed to be activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI), chopped off the right palm of the teacher on July 4 as he was returning from church. The assaulters were irked by the question paper that the teacher had set for internal examinations of degree students, as they alleged it had objectionable remarks about the Prophet.
The SIT has been conducting searches at residences of PFI office-bearers and their offices since then. Thirteen look-out notices and six sketches were issued on various suspects involved in the case and two persons were arrested so far. Both the arrests were on charges of conspiracy and this is the first time someone directly involved in the action is being caught.
During interrogation, the suspect had given leads into others involved in the crime. Searches for the others had been intensified, said a senior officer of the SIT.
In a related development, the SIT made it clear that clauses of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act would be invoked against the suspects in the assault case. This had been done only in cases involving activities against the country and was invoked in the case where some seditious materials were recovered from one of the suspects during searches.