Sr. Valsa John
KOCHI: At Sister Valsa John's ancestral home at Edapally in Kochi her family is understandably distraught. On Wednesday night she had spoken to them on phone from Jharkhand and just a few hours later they got the news that she had been murdered. She was hacked to death by mining mafia at Pachwara village in Pakur district last night.
Sister Valsa, 53, a professed nun with the Sisters of Charity of Jesus And Mary, had been working among tribals in the coal rich region of Dhumka for the past 20 years. The tribals have been displaced from their homelands and subject to inhuman exploitation by the coal mafia and Sister Valsa had taken it upon herself to resist the mafia. In the end she had to pay for it with her life. "She had mentioned about certain threats, but we never thought that the mafia would finish her off," said her elder brother M J Baby. Baby and two relatives will leave for Dhumka on Wednesday evening. "Most probably, the funeral will be conducted at Dhumka itself," Baby added.
According to an official communication received by her family, Sister Valsa was murdered by a group of persons armed with lethal weapons around 2 am at her residence. "She was pursuing a course in LLB. Her life was under constant threat and she had communicated it to Jharkhand political leaders like Shibu Soren and Stephen Marandi," Baby said. Sister Valsa, who took her vows in 1984 had, true to her vocation, chosen the less easy path. She had been teaching economics at St George High School in Kochi but quit to take up missionary work in Dhumka. "She always wanted to work for the welfare of the downtrodden and the poor," revealed Baby, who said she became emotional whenever she described the plight of the tribals. Apparently, she was approached by the coal mafia several times for a settlement. "But she was firm on her stand and demanded due share for the tribals from the revenue generated from the mines," Baby said. Sister Valsa last visited her home in Kochi in August.
Rev. Fr. K. P Vincent SJ