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Slain nun hailed for land fight

Dumka, Nov. 15: Sister Valsa John played a critical role in securing one of the best agreements in the interests of land losers, Marxist economist Prabhat Patnaik today said at a memorial lecture on the first death anniversary of the nun who was lynched in Pakur.

Addressing social workers and villagers affected by the Panem Coal Mines Ltd project in Pakur, he said the MoU signed between the company management and the displaced people promised a healthy rehabilitation package as a result of Sister Valsa’s efforts.

Sister Valsa was hacked to death by a mob of 45 at her rented house in Pachuara village after Maoists instigated the locals against the nun. Only seven villagers were arrested, two granted bail eventually, days after the death of the nun on the night of November 15, ironically also Statehood Day.

According to the MoU signed with locals, Panem had to treat the soil after mining, start a hospital and CBSE-affiliated schools in the area.

Patnaik also suggested the Centre should form a constitutional body with judicial powers to ensure such MoUs were fully implemented.

“In the neo-liberal era, not only is the land of tribals and farmers being grabbed in the name of industry and mining, but government land, which belong to the public, is also being handed over,” he said.

Former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi, a signatory of the MoU, said, “I personally feel guilty, as the terms of the MoU did not materialise to benefit the land losers.”

The organisers, Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Andolan Samiti, with which Sister Valsa was associated as part of an anti-displacement movement, also held a special prayer at the burial site of the nun at Vijaypur.