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Sister of Charity brutally murdered in India

NEW DELHI (UCAN): A 53-year-old Sister of Charity was shot dead in the state of Jharkhand, India, on November 15. Sister Valsa John, who comes from Kerala, was well known in the area for her work in defending the rights of tribal peoples.

Reports say that she was dragged from bed in the early morning by a mob of around 30 to 40 people and was stabbed and hacked to death in Pakur district, near the city of Dumka.

Bishop Julius Marandi, of Dumk, said on November 16 that the circumstances surrounding her death are not yet clear. 

According to Sister Lilly Mary, the provincial of the Sisters of Charity, Sister John was working with people belonging to the Santhal tribe and was living alone.

She explained that Sister John had been protesting against mining corporations that the tribal people were accusing of exploiting their rights in the region.

Sister John was arrested in 2007 for protesting against the sinking of a coal mine on tribal land that was alleged to have been acquired illegally in the Jharkhand’s Pakur district. 

The provincial, however, said that case had been settled.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Father Babu Joseph, said the local Church will demand a thorough investigation into the tragedy from the state government.

Thousands came to bid farewell to Sister John’s during a funeral Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral on November 17.

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