Kerala

Slain nun took on coal mafia

Sister Valsa John

Sister Valsa John  

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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.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 11:19:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/slain-nun-took-on-coal-mafia/article2633179.ece

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