Sister Valsa murder: police try to bury case by        arresting people close to the ...11/21/2011 14:18INDIASister Valsa ...
11/19/2011 09:48     INDIA
facing death threats. To defend their rights to the land and its resources, the Santalcommunity has created the Pajad Rajm...
against the interests of the powerful coal mafia with her life. The Church of Dumka andall Jharkhand pray that her martyrd...
It was proper that the candlelight vigil in memory of Sister Valsa John of Dumka,Jharkhand, on Friday 18th November 2011 a...
questioning today in connection with the murder. A deathly silence remains in Pachaura,the village where Valsa was butcher...
religious training she was assigned to Palamu district. In 1993 she came to Sahibganjdistrict and worked with the Jesuit F...
was proposed that in an area of approximately 13 square kilometers open cast mining willbe done in 11 square kilometers. T...
ensuring distributive justice as an integral scheme thereof. The executive in the name ofthe Governor stands vested with a...
For the Church and the Christian community, the brutal murder of Sr Valsa has to be alsoseen in a different light. This ce...
Annie Zaidi: Lets talk about justiceDaily News & Analysis - Nov 19, 2011Sister Valsa John, a nun who had been organising t...
Oraon claimed that the police had in five days cracked the murder case that has rockedJharkhand, which is struggling to pr...
Modus operandiWhat took the police by surprise was the modus operandi adopted by the Maoists.“It is apparent that the Maoi...
Meanwhile, chief minister Arjun Munda today said the killers would be brought to justicesoon.“The state government will en...
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Sister Valsa murder 21st November

  1. 1. Sister Valsa murder: police try to bury case by arresting people close to the ...11/21/2011 14:18INDIASister Valsa murder: police try to bury case by arresting people close to the Maoistsby Nirmala CarvalhoBut the Church is continuing its investigations into the coal mafia. According to FatherTom Kavalatt SJ, longtime friend of the Catholic nun and director of the Social ActionCentre, the seven arrested "are a cover to protect the interests of others."Dhumka (AsiaNews) - Police in Jharkhand claim to have solved the murder case of SisterValsa John, the nun of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary murdered on the night ofNovember 15, by arresting seven people close to the Maoists who operates in the area.But Catholic leaderrs doubt this sudden turn of the investigation, arguing that behind thearrest is an attempt to hide the interests of the powerful coal lobby, with which the nunhad clashed several times in the past.According to Inspector General Arun Oraon, the murder took place to prevent SisterValsa from accompanying a young person to lodge a complaint of an attempted rape,committed by Edwin Murmu. Those arrested killed Sister Valsa because otherwise "shewould use her influence to have Murmu arrested." Among those arrested, MarandiRanjan, known for his links with the Maoists.Fr. Tom Kavalatt SJ, director of the Action Social Center and longtime friend of SisterValsa, told AsiaNews: "There are many speculations about the murder of Sister Valsa.Although these seven defendants claim to have the groups behind nassaliti (Maoists, ed)area, we are still investigating. It is possible that others have used their ingenuity to coverthe interests of those who wanted to take out Sister Valsa ".All-faith prayer in Kolkata for Sister - 1 hour agoPTI | 07:11 PM,Nov 21,2011 Kolkata, Nov 21 (PTI) An all-faith prayer was today held inthe city in memory of Sister Valsa John, a nun of the Sister of Charity, brutally killed bysome miscreants at Pakur in Jharkhand last week. Co-adjutor of Archbishop ...Nun murder case: Police protecting real killers? - 10 minutes agoRanchi: Seven days have passed since Sister Valsa Jhon, a Nun from Kerala who waspart of a group campaigning against the coal mafia, was gunned down by a group ofunidentified men in Pakur, Jharkhand. Though the police on Monday arrested seven ...
  2. 2. 11/19/2011 09:48 INDIA and Christians demand justice for the nun murdered by the Mafia Coalby Nirmala CarvalhoAll appeals denounce the "shameless" link between the powerful coal companies and theState. Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the Center for Justice and Peace in AhmedabadPrashant: "The Martyrdom of Sister Valsa is a challenge for the Church in India." SajanK George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Thegovernment, led by Hindu extremists, is the real culprit."Dhumka (AsiaNews) - It is a matter of "national shame" that the "profound link betweenthe powerful coal companies and the state machine has cost the precious life of a womanwho was working to ensure the basic rights of the marginalized." Secular and Christianassociations condemn the murder of Sister Valsa John, 53, the nun of the Sisters ofCharity of Jesus and Mary shot dead by a group of 40 men on the night of November 15.A native of Kerala, the nun for 20 years had dedicated her life to the Santal tribal regionDhumka (State of Jharkhand), fighting for their rights and against the expropriation oftheir land by powerful coal lobby."The lobby of the coal mines - said Fr Cedric Prakash, Jesuit director of the Center forJustice and Peace Prashant, Ahmedabad - have become increasingly powerful. Theirrelationship with police and politicians is shameless. No one has the courage to touchthem. The Martyrdom of Sister Valsa is a wake-up call for the entire country and achallenge for the Church in India. Christianity, here, clearly must be lived alongside thepoor, the marginalized, the oppressed and exploited. The Church must support them in apractical way in their struggle for a more equitable, just and humane society.Demonstrating a resolute courage, even at the cost of losing privileges. Jesus did just that." The Jesuit then cites the encyclical of Benedict XVI Caritas in Veritate: "Love - caritas- is an extraordinary force which drives people to commit themselves with courage andgenerosity in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, EternalLove and Absolute Truth. "Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said: "TheGCIC believes the State Government, led by Hindu radicals, is responsible for the brutalmurder, and demand a CBI investigation into the murder of Sister Valsa John. "The National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), the National Fishworkers Forum(NFF) and the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (Nffpfw) signed ajoint communique in which they demand an investigation of the likely connectionsbetween the murder of Sister Valsa and death threats that she had received from the coalmafia."Sister Valsa - reads the statement - Sr. Valsa had been under constant threat from PanemCoal Ltd. and had voiced the same to friends and family. The Superintendent of Policehas confirmed that she had filed an FIR three years ago where she reported that she was
  3. 3. facing death threats. To defend their rights to the land and its resources, the Santalcommunity has created the Pajad Rajmahal Bachao Andolan with the help of SisterValsa. Despite the agreement signed in 2006, tensions in the area recently increased,culminating with the murder of the nun. Sister Valsa received constant intimidation fromPanem Coal Ltd. The Superintendent of Police confirmed that three years ago, thereligious filed a complaint against death threats. But the state never intervened, and haseven tried to discredit her figure with the media. "11/17/2011 14:04INDIA,-funeral-for-Catholic-nun-murdered-by-Coal-Mafia-23203.htmlIndia, funeral for Catholic nun murdered by Coal Mafiaby Nirmala CarvalhoSister Valsa, 53, of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, had worked for 20 yearswith the Santal tribals in the region of Dhumka. A gang shot her in cold blood in front ofher house. In the past she had received numerous threats from members of the local mafiafor issues related to settlements close to the coal mines. Local bishop: "Her martyrdomstrengthens and renews the Churchs mission in India."Dhumka (AsiaNews) – The funeral of Sister Valsa John, originally from Kerala tookplace this morning in the cathedral of Dumka (Jharkhand State). The Catholic religiouswas gunned down on the night of November 15 last by a group of unknown persons.Among the crowd that filled the cathedral, the brother, sister and two nephews of the nun,who for 20 years dedicated her life to the Santal tribal region. Bishop Julius Marandi ofDumka, told AsiaNews: "Her violent death was a terrible shock and a great loss to theChurch. We seek justice, but while we mourn this loss, our mission for the poor, the weakand voiceless will continue, strengthened and renewed by the blood of Sister Valsa, whonow intercedes for human rights, justice, dignity and hope of these people. "There have been no official statements yet regarding the murder of Sister Valsa, whichtook place in front of her house, but many suspect the coal Mafia, which operates in theregion, is responsible. The Catholic nun, 53 years, belonged to the Sisters of Charity ofJesus and Mary and several times had been approached by local crime gang member, forissues related to the coal mines. "Our sister – says her elder brother MJ Baby, - had toldus about the threats, but was firm on her positions in favor of the tribals. I did not thinkthe would kill her. " The family had seen the nun for the last time in August, when shereturned to Kochi for a brief visit.Fr. Tom Kavala, SJ, who has worked for over 15 years with the nun, told AsiaNews:"Sister Valsa created a tribal organization to stop the expropriation of land sought by thepowerful coal lobbies, including helping them to obtain compensation from companies.Six years ago, one of these lobbies e tried to buy out nine villages and Sister Valsamobilized the local poor people. These coal barons lodged 33 complaints against her andher supporters, and many of them ended up in prison"."Sister Valsa - said Mgr. Marandi - paid for her struggle for the poor and defenseless,
  4. 4. against the interests of the powerful coal mafia with her life. The Church of Dumka andall Jharkhand pray that her martyrdom will renew the mission of the Church to be awitness of faith. "After taking her vows in 1984, Sister Valsa started teaching economics at St George HighSchool in Kochi (Kerala), but soon left teaching to devote her life to mission among theDhumka tribals. In 2007 she was arrested for protesting against a coal mine built illegallyon land of the tribals in the district of Pakur. video at above IBN linkRanchi: Seven days have passed since Sister Valsa John, a Nun from Kerala who waspart of a group campaigning against the coal mafia, was gunned down by a group ofunidentified men in Pakur, Jharkhand. Though the police on Monday arrested sevensuspects, but they are still not sure if its the mafia or local villagers who are behind themurder."The villagers were unhappy that she was about to expose them in a rape case," said ArunKumar Oraon, IG, Santhal Pargana, Jharkhand.Valsas supporters arent for the moment buying the polices explanation. They believe itsa much larger conspiracy involving the highly influential coal mafia hand in glove withthe police."We had gone their after she was killed. The police is threatening us. I am sure this is thework of the coal mafia," said Gopi Ghosh, a supporter of Sister Valsa.Valsa killing created a ripple in the coal belt and strong protests followed for nabbingthose responsible. The immediate needle of suspicion was pointed towards the coalmafias and big coal companies, whose business interests got hampered time to time byValsas agitation."There should be a CBI enquiry," said Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahai.By suggesting the villagers killed Valsa because she was about to expose them in a rapecase, the police it seems have pointedly refused to explore other possibilities.A Nuns murder poses questions for State and ChurchSubmitted by admin4 on 21 November 2011 - 4:24pm and Whistle-blower Sr Valsa John pays with her life for defending theTribals’ ownership of their land, minerals and forests,says John Dayal,
  5. 5. It was proper that the candlelight vigil in memory of Sister Valsa John of Dumka,Jharkhand, on Friday 18th November 2011 at New Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedralbecame a celebration of her life, the work of Christian activists in defence of the rightsand dignity of the poor, tribals, dalits and marginalised.It also posed a challenge to the Church in general if it would retreat in fear at the brutalityof Valsa’s sacrifice, or get courage from the luminescence of her sacrifice and go deeperinto territories of human rights still uncharted -- obeying the demands of Caritas inVeritate, love and the Truth underpinning the social teachings of the church. It also had amessage for the State, the government and the political, bureaucratic and criminal justicesystem – will they wake up to the threat posed to society in general and to whistleblowers and rights defenders in particular from the unholy regime of impunity and theconspiracy between vested interests in governance and the corporate sector for whomprofits are God.Valsa John’s fellow activists in Jharkhand, New Delhi and elsewhere, mourned acomrade. The gathered Archbishops, Bishops, Nuns, Priests and Laity felt the loss of aperson who heard the call of God when she was already working as a teacher. Valsa hadresponded to that call with an alacrity and sincerity that surely will remain a lesson formany more than just her congregation, the illustrious Sisters of Charity of Jesus andMary. To the common people, Sr. Valsa John is a Martyr whose blood would not go invain. But they also wanted to find out why she was murdered, calling for a high levelenquiry, possibly by the Central Bureau of Investigations, into the criminal conspiracybehind her dastardly murder because Jharkhand State’s police investigation and justicesystem are rickety at best, and often part of the corporate and mafia conspiracies.Sr Valsa John, 52, is the fourth social activist killed in unexplained circumstances inIndia this year. Like many other activists, trade union leaders and Right To Informationcrusaders, she had a premonition of her death, and had warned friends and relative, andperhaps even the police, that she feared a brutal end.Valsa was brutally murdered in her room in a rented house in Pachaura, In Pakur inDumka district of Jharkhand late at night on Tuesday, 15th November 2011. Thebloodstained floor of Sister Valsa’s room bore testimony to the violence. She had beenattacked by a group, said to number anywhere from two dozen to forty men armed withswords, axes and other weapons. Her head was nearly severed from her body. SomeMaoist literature and a spade were left behind, possibly as a ruse.Many immediate theories were floated to account for the attack. One was that Valsa mayhave incurred the wrath of a group of local criminals for seeking justice for a raped tribalgirl and that may have been the immediate provocation . Valsa had sought anappointment with Pakur deputy commissioner S K Singh after the Amrapara policerefused to lodge an FIR against the alleged rapists. Singh did not deny that anappointment had been sought, newspapers reported, quoting him as saying “She mayhave contacted my office for an appointment.” Amrapara police maintained no FIR abouta rape had been lodged at the police station, although they detained two persons for
  6. 6. questioning today in connection with the murder. A deathly silence remains in Pachaura,the village where Valsa was butchered.The local media too has taken sides, some imputing motives. The local reporters of thelarge media such as the Times of India have particularly come in for scrutiny for theirapparently biased reporting.Valsa was laid to rest at the Christian cemetery at Dudhani in Dumka on 17th Novemberafter the Mass in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Her eldest brother, Baby Malamel, and two of hernephews, from Kochi were present for the funeral. About 600 to 700 people were presentfor the funeral, 200 of whom were from the village Pachaura where she lived.Even as herbody as buried in the Jharkhand she had come to love, Valsa has been espoused bynational and international organisations working in Human Rights. Amnesty Internationalasked for an enquiry at the highest level, suspecting the hand of mining mafia. CardinalTelesphore Toppo called it a shame for the state. Officials of almost every churchorganisation – from the Catholic and Syrian Churches to the Evangelical and Pentecostdenominations, made common cause, calling her a martyr in the cause of serving thepoor, as mandated by Jesus Christ who she loved so dearly.Sr Mary Scaria, an Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and also an activist, recalledSr Valsa as a member of her own congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Maryknown for their work in education and activists in various parts of the country. TheCongregation was founded on the 4th November in 1803, in a little village ofLovendegem in the diocese of Gent, Belgium by the parish priest, Fr. Peter Joseph Triest,in the aftermath of the French Revolution which left so much poverty and misery,specially that of the children. On 4 November 2003 the Congregation celebrated 200hundred years of living out the charism of the Sisters of Charity. Following the footstepsof the founder, no challenge was too great, no request too trivial and no one too precious.This has been a sacred history during which every milestone has seen the deepening ofthe threefold dimension of the SCJM life of love - Love for God her father, love for oneanother and love for all peoples especially the poor, the abandoned and those who aredeprived of love and dignity in the world. The sisters are active in England, France,Ireland, Netherlands, Israel, Rwanda, Mali, Congo, South Africa, Venezuela, India, SriLanka, Pakistan, the Republic of Central Africa and Rome. The Mother house of theCongregation is in Ghent, Belgium.This was the congregation Valsa chose to be her destiny.Valsa was born on 19 March 1958 at Vazhakala village of Idappally in ErnakulamDistrict of Kerala, the second child of her parents. A good student, she went on tobecome a teacher in her home town’s St. Pius UP School,. Her life still felt unfulfilled,and one day Valsa decided she would live and work for the poor and exploited people ofour country. The Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary had a convent in her village andshe approached them and told them about her wish. They told her that the SCJM sisterswork in the rural areas, mainly among the marginalized people and through thiscongregation; she would be able to fulfil her desire. She did not hesitate. After her
  7. 7. religious training she was assigned to Palamu district. In 1993 she came to Sahibganjdistrict and worked with the Jesuit Fathers at Kodma. She was transferred to JiapaniMission in 1995.Jesuit priest and tribal intellectual-activist Dr Marianus Kujur says “If she wanted shecould have had a cosy and comfortable life in ‘God’s own country’, where she started hercareer as a teacher more than 20 years ago. But she did not.She came to Pachaura in 1998 and the anti-mines movement in the area started in 2000,working for the people in coal mining areas of Jharkhand for 12 years and guided them intheir struggles. She perhaps did not realise it then, but she was joining a distinguishedband of people who had fought for the right of the tribals. Long ago in the 1880s,suffocated by injustice and oppression from all sides visionary leader Sido of Bognadihvillage near Barhait sent a clarion call to all the Santhals to get organized and rise up inarms. His brothers Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav and his sisters Phulo and Jhano too joinedhim to give his leadership shape and substance. This, historians recall, resulted in thelegendary Santhal rebellion of 1855, which swept the British administrators off their feet.Valsa landed in the midst of important developments – the issue of rights over the coal inthat mineral rich region. Kataldih village near Amrapara block in Pakur district hasreserves of good quality of coal on a very large scale The main users are the Punjab StateElectricity Board and the private sector Emta Group of companies – collectively calledthe Panem coal mines..Human Rights group Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, PUCL, investigated the issueback in 2003 and published a detailed report on the Pachaura coal mining project whenthe media began reporting resistance from local tribals to the Project. The PSEB is a‘public utility service’ wholly owned by the Government of Punjab. By a letter of theMinistry of Coal and Mines (Department of Coal), letter No. 47011/1(4) 2000- CPAMdated 26th December, 2001, Pachaura Central Block was allotted to the PSEB for captivemining for supply of coal on an exclusive basis to its own power plants. The PSEBformed a Joint Venture Company, PANEM Coal Mines Limited, with Eastern Mineralsand Trading Agency (EMTA) to produce, supply, transport and deliver coal from thecoalmines of Pachaura Central Block, exclusively to PSEB thermal power stations.According to Gazette notification, by the Ministry of Coal and Mines (Department ofCoal) CA, dated Feb.22, 2002, the Central Government specified “asan end use the supply of Coal from the Pachaura Central Block by PANEM Coal MinesLimited on an exclusive basis to the power plants of Punjab Electricity Board forgeneration of thermal power.PUCL noted that the Government surveyed and delineated the whole area covering 41square kilometers with demarcated divisions such as North, South and Central Blocks.Pachaura Central Block is given to PSEB. This Block measures approximately 13 squarekilometers covering nine revenue villages (mouzas) such as Singhdehri, Taljhari,Kathaldih, Chilgo, Bisunpur, Dangapara, Amjhari, Liberia and Pachaura. It is estimatedthat Pachaura Central Block holds 562 million ton of coal reserve. Out of this reserve it
  8. 8. was proposed that in an area of approximately 13 square kilometers open cast mining willbe done in 11 square kilometers. The Central Block envisaged 44 years of open castmining to extract 289 million tons of coal. The Jharkhand Government is expected to getannual royalty at the rate of Rs. 100 crores.The Government claimed it was legally within its power to acquire land for specificpurpose given the Land Acquisition Act. The PUCL team heard the local people who said“We have been living here for long. Our forefathers Sido and Kanhu and their followerssacrificed their lives and won for us freedom from oppression and gave us an identity.And all of a sudden, like a bolt from the blue, we hear that someone is coming to enterour premises and oust us as if we are encroachers and criminals.”The people knew that that elsewhere in Santhal Parganas, at Lalmatia and at Chitra,collieries have displaced and decimated tribals and most of the promises of rehabilitationremained only on paper. The PUCL report highlighted that the tribal community is acohesive community with its communitarian mode of living, interaction and decision-making. It depends on a life close to nature with its rivers and forests, with agriculturalfields and grazing lands, places of communitarian gatherings for festivals and villagefunctions. It also has its ancestral abode right in its midst. It is in this socio-culturalphenomenon they live and conduct their affairs. Their homes may be mud walled andgrass roofed but they have a beauty and functional practicality of their own. Land is theirmost important natural and valuable asset and imperishable endowment from which thetribals derive their sustenance, social status, economic and social equality, permanentplace of abode and work and living. It is a security and source fr economicempowerment. Therefore, the tribes too have great emotional attachment to their lands.Civil servant and later Commissioner for Scheduled Tribes Dr. B. D. Sharma has notedthis was the thesis behind Jawaharlal Nehru’s Panchsheel which enunciated that “ peoplewould develop along the lines of their own genius and we should avoid imposinganything on them. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts andculture. Tribal rights in land and forest should be respected. We should try to build up ateam of their own people to do the work of administration and development. Sometechnical personnel from outside will, no doubt, be needed, especially in the beginning.But we should avoid introducing too many outsiders into tribal territory. We should notover administer these areas or overwhelm them with a multiplicity of schemes. Weshould rather work through, and not in rivalry to, their own social and culturalinstitutions. We should judge results, not by statistics, or the amount of money spent, butby the quality of human character that is evolved.”This was codified in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution which is an integral scheme ofthe Constitution with direction, philosophy and anxiety to protect the tribes fromexpropriation. Its objective is ‘to preserve tribal autonomy, their culture and economicempowerment to ensure social, economic and political justice for preservation of peaceand good government in the Scheduled Areas. B D Sharma said all actions of the Statemust be in furtherance of the above Constitutional objective and dignity of personsbelonging to the Scheduled Tribes, preserving the integrity of the Scheduled Areas and
  9. 9. ensuring distributive justice as an integral scheme thereof. The executive in the name ofthe Governor stands vested with all the necessary powers, perhaps more, for achievingthe aforesaid objectives.”. Sr Valsa John believed in this thesis of justice for the tribals.The sustained resistance of the people forced the PSEB to work out a rehabilitationpackage which included monetary compensation, employment against land in exceptionalcircumstances only to fill vacancies, jobs for one member of a family which has lost threeor more acres of land,Sr Valsa had been jailed in 2007 for protesting against the forced acquisition of adivasilands for Panem. It was because of her role in negotiations with all the authorities that amore comprehensive agreement was worked out. The agreement with Panem paved theway for alternate land, employment, a health centre and free education for the children ofthe displaced families. Apart from economic rehabilitation and resettlement benefits, thecompany agreed to fill the pits of the open cast mines, level them, put good sand, make itcultivable and give back the land to the people. It agreed to a crop compensation for theland under mining at Rs. 6000 per acre per year, a share of the profit to the people (Rs.10,000 per acre per year) till they fill the pits and give back the land to the people andundertaking to level the remaining land of the people and make it fit for better cultivationusing lift irrigation facilities. The company also agreed to jobs for the affected people,free education, a hospital with all modern facilities, quarters with four rooms and averanda and the standard facilities under existing government rules.As the local media now reports, there were some who were dissatisfied with theagreement Valsa had reached. No one knows if any of these disgruntled elements are apart of the conspiracy.For civil society, Sr Valsa’s murder is part of another chain too. Three other socialactivists have been killed this year after fighting on behalf of victims of human rightsviolations and marginalized communities, or using India’s Right to Informationlegislation to expose human rights violations and government corruption. In November2011, Nadeem Sayed, a Gujarat-based activist, was stabbed to death after he testified onbehalf of the victims of the Naroda Patiya massacre case in which 95 persons had beenkilled during the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim riots. In August, environmental activistShehla Masood, 35, was shot dead in Bhopal city in August after trying to exposeenvironmental violations of urban infrastructure projects and challenging mining plans inMadhya Pradesh. In March, Jharkhand social activist Niyamat Ansari was abducted andkilled after he used the Right to Information legislation to expose local contractors andofficials who had embezzled funds earmarked for the rural poor. Suspicions centrearound armed Maoists because Ansaris exposes threatened their share of the embezzledfunds in return for protecting the corrupt contractors and officials.India’s civil society has been demanding new legislation to protect activists who receivedthreats after filing petitions demanding crucial information affecting the livelihoods oflocal communities.
  10. 10. For the Church and the Christian community, the brutal murder of Sr Valsa has to be alsoseen in a different light. This certainly is not a question of persecution of a minoritycommunity. Sr Valsa was in Dumka not as a proselyser, as some in the print andelectronic media make her seem, but as a human rights activist obeying her calling. Butthe murder does have a critical mission dimension. After being battered into some sort ofsubmission to the will of the state during the seven year regime of the pro HindutvaBharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, and the last eight years of aninsipid United Progressive Alliance, the church is at the cusp, or the precipice, of a greatrethink.The State has betrayed the Church on the issue of rights to Dalit Christians. It has givenno clear answer in the Supreme court which is hearing Writ petitions by various groupson restoring the rights of Dalit Muslims and Christians which they enjoyed before thepassing of the 1950 Presidential Order. The State has also shown no signs of reversingthe notorious Freedom of Faith laws enacted by many Congress and BJP ruled States.The government is also playing an insidious game in using the Right to Education Act to“tame” the church institutions. These are signals as much as the central government’ssilence to the call of that great Hindutva leader, oncologist Dr Praveen Togadia of theVishwa Hindu Parishad who has called for the beheading of anyone who converts asingle Hindu. Any other person would have been in jail for saying less.Will the church be cowed down before this building pressure. There are some murmurssaying that the church must focus on faith and leave social action to others. A section ofthe Church wants to focus on insinuation building. A small but influential section of thechurch wants to stress its “nationalistic” credentials to cosy up to the right wing Hindutvaelements and evade their political wrath. But this is not the majority of the Church.One is happy to note a strong spine in all denominations of the Church. The recent massmovement, which the church supported in Tamil Nadu, is an indication of this. TheBishop and priests who participated in the movement against an ill planned nuclearpower plant in Koodankulam where villagers of Idinthakarai staged relay hunger strikesto protest against the Koodankulam nuclear plant whose safety has been called intoquestion. Right wing propagandists, politicians and a section of the media have joinedhands to demonize the Church. It is heartening to see the brave response of the peopleand the religious who hold the public cause to be superior to their own well being. Thesituation in Orissa, Chhatisgarh and several other states may demand the same fortitudeand courage from the church. The Nun working in a distant forest hamlet, or standing inchallenge to the conspiracy of mafia, police and the corporate sector, is proof that thechurch actually practices its theoretical preferential commitment to the poor.--John Dayal
  11. 11. Annie Zaidi: Lets talk about justiceDaily News & Analysis - Nov 19, 2011Sister Valsa John, a nun who had been organising tribal villages to protest displacementdue to coal mines, had begun to win small victories. She had successfully led agitationsin Pakur district, and negotiated a good rehabilitation and compensation ...Nuns murder case cracked: Jharkhand PoliceNewsX - Nov 20, 2011Jharkhand Police sources have informed NewsX that they have cracked the murder caseof Sister Valsa John. Sister Valsa, a prominent whistleblower activist, was brutally killedin Dumka last week. Two people have been arrested so far, and seven more ...India nun Valsa John murder: police probing Maoist roleBBC News - 7 hours agoSister Valsa John was killed after about 50 people broke into her home last week. Policesay that Maoist pamphlets were left at the crime scene. They said that rebels were findingit hard to infiltrate the area where the nun had considerable influence. ... murder a Maoist plot- Thirty rebels involved, 7 villagers held RAJESH KUMAR PANDEY & SUMAN K.SHRIVASTAVAAmrapara/Ranchi, Nov. 20: A group of villagers, instigated by Maoists looking toestablish a role for themselves in Pachuara village’s dealings with a mining company setup there, murdered Sister Valsa John as they perceived her to be an obstacle in theirdesigns, the police have concluded.Seven of those villagers have been arrested, including Advin Murmu, who is also accusedof raping an associate of the Sister, said IG of Santhal Pargana Arun Oraon in Amraparapolice station today.
  12. 12. Oraon claimed that the police had in five days cracked the murder case that has rockedJharkhand, which is struggling to project a favourable industrial climate to woo big-ticketinvestments.Valsa was murdered at night on November 15 after Maoists, owing allegiance to areacommander Ramesh Soren, surrounded her rented home, while the villagers they hadinstigated barged in and killed her using traditional work tools and weapons.None of the Maoists have been arrested. But all the seven villagers held, including a closeassociate of Valsa who would stand in at meetings with mining company Panem, werepresented before the media today.The seven are: Advin Murmu, Pycil Hembrom, Prem Turi, Tala Marandi, Rakesh Turi,Rajan Marandi, and Pradhan Murmu. All belong to Pachuara and adjoining Alubedavillages.“In the absence of Sister Valsa, Pycil Hembrom used to monitor the functioning of thecommittee overseeing relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the Panem coal mine,a cause the nun fought for over a decade. Pycil, along with some other local youths,turned against Sister Valsa and were involved in masterminding protests against her,”Oraon said.The Maoist hand“The murder was committed with the strategic support of Maoists active in the area, whowanted to establish their hold on the Panem coal mine,” Oraon said.The killer mob comprised 45 — 15 villagers and 30 Maoists. The Maoists surrounded therented house Valsa lived in, while the villagers barged in and killed her.The IG said the Maoists systematically carried out a disinformation campaign against thenun, till a section of village youths actually believed Valsa had been bought out by thePanem management though she continued to work for the affected people.The attempt by some local youths to sideline Valsa from the committee constituted toensure proper implementation of the resettlement and rehabilitation package also played adecisive role in mobilising villagers against the nun. “She was considered a hurdle whenit came to misappropriating compensation money and other benefits being provided bythe Panem management to the land losers and other affected people,” Oraon said.The trigger“The rape of a close associate of Sister Valsa on November 7 was the immediate motivefor her murder as she had insisted on lodging an FIR against accused Advin Murmu,contrary to attempts by a section of villagers to settle the matter at the panchayat level,”the IG said.
  13. 13. Modus operandiWhat took the police by surprise was the modus operandi adopted by the Maoists.“It is apparent that the Maoists are not well organised in the area and so could not actagainst the Sister directly. They provoked the villagers to take the lead. The incident is aneye opener for us as far as tackling the Maoist menace is concerned,” Oraon said.He added that the Maoists had adopted a similar strategy when they felled executivedirector of Panem coal mine D. Saran and assistant mining manager Sheetal Prasad onOctober 12, 2009. The two were gunned down while they were out on a morning walk.“The police initially thought it was a professional hit. The Maoist link was establishedwhen we arrested a Naxalite four months ago, who confessed that the rebels had hiredprofessional criminals to kill the duo,” the IG said.He added that the Maoists were unable to gain a foothold in the area because of Valsa’sclout, with the Sister ensuring that whatever benefits were being provided by themanagement went to the villagers.“In the absence of Valsa, Pycil Hembrom used to monitor the functioning of theimplementation committee, and he was involved in masterminding protests against her,”the IG said.Notably, Hembrom is the son of Pachuara village head Binej Hembrom, who was also thepresident of the Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Andolan of which Valsa was a top functionary.Last callThe IG said Sister Valsa’s last call from her cell phone was to one Sonia Dehri ofPachuara village on the fateful night at 10:37pm.The Sister spelt out the threat to her life as she realised that an armed mob hadsurrounded the house, where she had been staying after moving out of Pycil Hembrom’shouse a few months ago when the rift between them surfaced.“The call details are being traced. This apart, the arrested accused would be taken onremand to establish whether there was someone behind the curtain masterminding thekilling,” the IG said.Probe onThe IG said the probe was far from complete. “We have just managed to establish themotive and the men behind the crime. The probe will not be complete till we get hold ofthe last person involved,” he said.
  14. 14. Meanwhile, chief minister Arjun Munda today said the killers would be brought to justicesoon.“The state government will ensure speedy investigation and trial,” he told TheTelegraph.