The funeral of Sister Valsa in Dumka last year
Dumka, Nov. 14: A majority of the villagers who were spurred by Maoists to carry out the killing of Sister Valsa John in Pakur are yet to be identified or arrested a year after the Catholic nun’s brutal murder that continues to spawn conspiracy theories.
Seven villagers, including one accused of raping an associate of the nun, were arrested five days after Sister Valsa was lynched at her rented house in Pachuara village on the night of November 15.
Altogether 45 criminals including 30 Maoists were involved in the murder using traditional work tools and weapons, according to the police.
As many as 26 culprits were named accused in an FIR lodged in the case at Amrapara police station. Pakur superintendent of police Mayur Patel told The Telegraph the property of the named accused, who are absconding, had been attached. The others, mostly Maoists, are yet to be traced.
In January, Jharkhand High Court granted bail to two of the accused — Ranjan Marandi and Pradhan Murmu.
Most of the accused were earlier associated with the nun who was at the forefront of a decade-long anti-displacement movement against a coal mining company.
Panem, unlike several private firms locked in disputes over acquisition of land in parts of Santhal Pargana, had already managed to go ahead with its project in the district.
Many local residents are of the opinion that close aides of Sister Valsa had turned on her after the nun was influenced by Panem to weaken the anti-displacement campaign.
They argue that the condition of residents, mostly tribals, displaced by the Panem mine had worsened over the years since the company began operations.
“Anyone daring to oppose Panem for failing to provide suitable compensation and other benefits to the displaced as stated in an agreement have had to bear the brunt,” a Pachuara resident alleged.
A resident of Amrapara was more specific, claiming that many innocent people and those who were against displacement were either killed in mysterious road accidents or branded Maoists.
Panem public relation officer Sanjay Kumar Das, however, said the management was always committed to offer suitable compensation package and benefits to affected people.
On the other hand, political leaders, including the JMM Littipara MLA Simon Marandi, had publicly questioned Sister Valsa’s role in the anti-displacement drive, accusing her of playing a pro-Panem role in the guise of a well-wisher of local residents.
A number of social outfits will organise events in Dumka and Pachuara tomorrow to mark the first death anniversary of Sister Valsa, who they regard as a martyr. Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan Samiti will hold a memorial lecture at Human Resources Development Centre in Dumka.