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Updated: November 17, 2011 18:33 IST

Slain nun took on coal mafia

Staff Reporter
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Sister Valsa John
Sister Valsa John

She had been campaigning for rights of tribals displaced by coal mines

Catholic nun Valsa John (52), who was involved in a movement against displacement of tribal people by coal mining companies in Jharkhand, was murdered early on Wednesday. The killing occurred at Bachuwari village of Pakur district, 430 km from here. The police suspect that a coal mafia is behind it.

In the immediate context, she had been protesting against the functioning of a private coal mine in Pakur district. She was staying at Bachwari for the last 12 years, all by herself. She was seeking to protect the interests of the Santhal tribe, some members of which were displaced by the Panem Coal Mines.

According to the police, some unidentified men approached her house around midnight. When she opened the door, she was beaten with sticks and hacked to death.

The nun, who hailed from Kerala, was arrested in 2007 after she protested against the functioning of a coal mine on tribal land.

She was protesting against mining corporations that were exploiting the tribal people of the Pakur region, said Father Babu Joseph, a local spokesperson for the Catholic Church. “We've appealed to the government for an investigation.”

“We're investigating. Only after a detailed investigation can we provide a clear picture,” said Amarnath Khanna, Superintendent of Police. “Three years ago she had filed an FIR, wherein she reported that she was facing death threats. But she didn't mention any name,” he added.

Threats mentioned

PTI reports from Kochi:

Sister Valsa John had told her family members in Vazhakala at Kakkanad in Ernakulam district that she faced death threats from the mining mafia, one of her brothers said on Wednesday.

During a visit in August, she spoke of death threats from the coal mining mafia that she was fighting in order to protect the tribal community, Baby, her younger brother, said. He said Sister Valsa spoke to her elder sister in Kochi on the phone on Tuesday evening and discussed her problems.

Sister Valsa was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary congregation for the last 24 years.

Mr. Baby, along with one of his sisters, is set to leave for Jharkhand to attend the funeral, expected to be held on Thursday.

This type of slaughter has become the style of the day. By the act the upper hand in this mercyless act is trying to spill the blood on some innocent as well as to dismantle the movement. The government shall see that the political killing is stopped..

from:  Jossey Kuriakose
Posted on: Nov 18, 2011 at 21:48 IST

A very Brave lady who single handedly took on the Coal Mafia-It is a lesson for our corrupt & Spineless IAS,IPS etc officers who are Afraid of these Mining Mafias-These Mining Mafias have spread their Tentacles to almost every state & IAS & IPS Officers are afraid to touch them because of their Political links.

from:  Dr.R.K.Uppal
Posted on: Nov 18, 2011 at 18:39 IST

It is immaterial whether she was a nun or otherwise. The fact is that she had concern for fellow human being is the ideal of human life. She should get justice at any cost.

from:  mr.bignoise
Posted on: Nov 18, 2011 at 14:12 IST

It is an unsettling incident in many ways. First of all, it indicates massive injustice prevalent in our society. It also shows how diginity of human person has disappeared from our culture. Moreover, it tells us a story of a failed system!!!

from:  Xavier Tharamel S.J.
Posted on: Nov 18, 2011 at 14:00 IST

Whoever be the culprits, it is a serious incident that has to be take care of. Why? A person who is working for the betterment of the socially backward specially a Nun dedicated to the service of God and His people is killed then what is the development that has been claimed to be achieved? Meaningless. so the culprits should be brought to light and should be punished in due manner. But it is not christian way to desire to get punishment for a culprit. but praying God to be forgive. In my mind it is there. But still the culprits should be punished.

from:  Fr. Vincent Kanimangalathukaran
Posted on: Nov 18, 2011 at 10:17 IST

Shame on India for another brutal murder of a woman who stood for the oppressed and deprived.In India the main problem is the too much freedom provided by the constitution.The culprits of such henious acts to be given death sentence .Politicians or any VIPs ,behead them infront of the common people to be lesson for every one.Whether Judiciary system in India have the courage for this?or the legislatures?..The so called human activists may oppose to this..Sorry for them.May the Reverent Sister's Soul rest in peace..

from:  jithu mon
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 20:02 IST

police officer commented that., she made an FIR about threats to her life and didnt mentioned any name. she may not have mentioned cos she may not be aware of the names and of the posts they holding.. but its the duty of the police to find the name and punish the culprits. police officer may have been a part of the threats gang... silly of that officer.
may almighty give peace to her soul..

from:  sayeed
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 17:53 IST

Only few are called to this great sacrifice. I am sure the people of good will be united in spirit and body to continue the LORD's work as sister did. Earthly justice may be a far cry as above comments note. Human nature and human authority also is too weak. Pray Gods blessing on the sister's near and dear ones, the tibal community and sisters of Jesus and Mary community in a special way and all who work for the deprived.

from:  Augustine Mekkunnel
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 17:29 IST

Money rules the world and coal = money. Any disturbing element - human or not - has to vanish: dead or alive. Sister Valsa proved love to be the value that really matters. Obviously the Mammon didn't allow her to be compassionate and simply human. May she rest in peace and continue to take care of the voiceless...

from:  Paul Franssen
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 17:27 IST

Supreme sacrifice for a very noble cause that was dearer to her heart. Despite threats to her life,Sr.Valsa carried on her mission in line with the teachings of her Master, Lord Jesus to have compassion and love towards the poor and needy.
We can not expect justice from the government or from the judiciary when the learned judges have allowed even a brute like Dara Singh who heartlessly burnt Rev.Staines and his two innocent children, to escape gallows,even after concrete evidence was produced by the investigating machinery against this hard core criminal in the mrder case!

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 16:55 IST

It's a shame that a person standing for the rights of the poor and the marginalized has to pay the price of it with her life. It has always been the case and the history tends to repeat itself time and again.Brave heart Fr A.T. Thomas was meted out similar treatment in the 90s when he was beheaded by his perpetrators in Hazaribag district of Jharkhand and the family of the diseased and Christian community never got the answers they deserved neither from the court of law nor from the administration. I fear the worst and the government does not exude confidence that they would ever nail the culprits. It's a real shame but I salute the sacrifice made by Sr Valsa John hoping that her life might inspire generations to fight for similar causes that rock the tribal society in general.

from:  Vinod Sushil Soreng
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 15:40 IST

Brave and Compassionate Sister! To the Government of India. Make haste to investigate the murder of Sister Valsa John. Punish the coal mining Mafia, The Panem Coal Mines in Jharkhand for this cruel murder. Shame on the criminals. Shame on the Government who did not protect Sister Valsa! Now the Government must make further actions to continue Sister Valsa's compassionate work to protect the Santhal Tribe and their land!

from:  Marianna Rydvald
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 13:59 IST

The above statement of Amarnath Khanna, Superintendent of Police. “Three years ago she had filed an FIR, wherein she reported that she was facing death threats. But she didn't mention any name,” , that she did not mention any name is incorrect. She mentioned the name of the Manager of PANEM. This should be investigated into.

from:  Xavier Dias
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 13:14 IST

Wherever mines are there,blatant exploitation and swindling by the political big wigs follow and even the thugs go to the extent of murdering anyone who intervenes in their nefarious activities.Jharkand is known for this and we have also witnessed Himalayan corruption and goondaism in states like Karnataka for similar reasons.It is really unfortunate that Sr.Valsa John,the Catholic nun who had been fighting for the rights of the poor tribals in Jharkand has been brutally murdered.It is a tragedy that despite death threats to this nun,the police had been lethargic and has allowed this heinous act to be perpetrated by the Mine Mafias. No doubt the poor tribals have lost a great protector of them and it is paramount that the Government comes forward to apprehend the culprits.Wish the matryrdom of Sr.Valsa,their Good Samaritan brings to the tribals the benefits for which Sr.Valsa has shed her blood.

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 09:18 IST

Kerala nun murdered by mining mafia in Jharkhand ? The coal mafia and also the hindutva forces HAVE BEEN VERY CUNNINGLY DEPLOYING THE DIRTY STRATEGY BY DIVERTING the attention from the beneficial aspects of the activities of a priest /nun by giving a twist to make it appear that the heinous murder of that particular nun/priest was a sequel to the conversion activities! Even in the gruesome murder case in spite of the availability of concrete evidence , the bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan chose to dismiss the CBI appeal for death penalty to Dara Singh, the main accused in the Staines' triple murder case and these justices had to remove some of their unwarranted comments from their judgement under public pressure ! So much about the sense of justice of the Indian supreme court justices!

from:  Sanjeev Reddy
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 09:12 IST

Brave and Compassionate Sister ! Unfortunately the concerned Government could not provide her the much needed security to carry on her just and valiant solo fight against the Coal mining Mafia in order to protect the interests of hapless tribals ! Its a great shame on the Government ! RIP !

from:  Haja Abu Bucker
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 01:28 IST
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