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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sr. Valsa case with the National Commission for Women

Sr. Jessy takes up Sr. Valsa case with NCW

November 26, 2011 by admin  

CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi
CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi
New Delhi, November 25, 2011:
The Citizen's Rights Trust founder-president Adv. Sr. Jessy Kurian filed a complaint with the National Commission for Women to get speedy justice to Sr. Valsa John on 24th November, 2011. She led a delegation and met Ms. Mamtha Sharma, the chairperson. The Registration No is 8/14403/2011/NCW/CW/AV and one can enquire into the status quoting this reference. The Supreme Court advocate, Sr. Jessy Kurian is a former Member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.
The delegation also demanded a CBI probe into the incident. As a result, the Commission has already constituted a Committee to investigate into the matter headed by Justice Lodi, Vinod Sharma IPS, Dr. Hemalatha, chairperson, Jharkhand women commission and the member secretary of the NCW. The memorandum presented in brief describes the situation as below:
Sister Valsa John belonged to a Religious Society called "Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary". She had been rendering selfless service to the displaced people especially women, children and the poorest of the poor in a remote village in Pakkur District for last about 9 years. These innocent poor people were displaced by 'Panem Coal Mines Pvt Ltd Company'. Sr. Valsa stood to bring justice to these displaced people till her last day.
Facts of the case:
On the night of 15th November 2011, a crowd of about 50 people, armed with traditional weapons came at around 10.30pm and surrounded the house. First they tied few youth who were present in the premises. Then they entered the house and dragged Mr. Sonaram Hembron, the owner of the house and threatened to kill him if he did not hand over Sr. Valsa to them. Saying so, they thrashed him and barged into the house and entered the room where Sr. Valsa was sleeping. They mercilessly pulled her out, and attacked her from all sides and killed her. Thereafter the crowd fled the place.
According to the eye witnesses, the killers were associated with the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd. It is to be noted that prior to this killing, in Panchuwara several villagers namely Vijay Membrom, Joseph Soren, Raghuvir Ray, were killed as they were with the people protesting and later their death was dumped as mere accidents.
Developments that led to her murder/ in her activities:
Since early 2000s, the Panem Coal Mines Pvt Ltd a project of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Eastern Minerals and Trading Agency (EMTA) from West Bengal, had been trying to acquire land for mining operations in the coal reserves of Pachwara and 32 other surrounding villages. The 52 year –old Sr. Valsa John, who had been staying in Pachwara since 1998, tried to help the people organize themselves against the coal mining company acquiring the land of the villagers. In order to defend their rights over their land and resources, the Santhal Adivasi Community formed an organization called Rajmahal Pahar bachao Andolan. Sister Valsa, along with other social activists like Majhi Haddam, the traditional administrative Headman of the Santhal tribe, worked to organize the Community and she was in the forefront of the protest that was building against the exploitation by the Panem Coal Company.
However the displaced poor people failed to get justice from all corners including High Court and Supreme Court. Moreover they were harassed by the Company, police and the administration to withdraw their protest. When they could not withstand such harassments they were forced to make an agreement (MoU) with the company at last. Sister Valsa had a decisive role in formulating this agreement and making the company to accept it. The MoU Monitoring Committee (MC) consisted of two representatives from each village, three from the movement, three from the traditional leadership and three from the Company itself. Thus the Committee (MC) was consisted   only of the Project affected persons and the Company and no one from administrative and political side.
Though the MoU was signed in 2006, the Company did not do justice to the people as per the MoU. That led to tension mounting and the protest continued in the area under the leadership of Sr. Valsa. She tried her best to bring justice to the displaced people as per MoU. Along with the people she demanded the implementation of MoU. She urged the Company to establish schools for the displaced children for their education as per MoU. She demanded compensations like alternative agricultural lands, employment to local youths and proper drinking water etc.
She was under constant threat from PNEM Company:
Sr. Valsa had been under constant threat from PANEM Company and she shared this with her family members too. The Superintendent of Police has confirmed that she had filed an FIR three years ago where she reported that she was facing threats. It is unfortunate that despite her complaint the police did not take any action either to launch an investigation or to provide her protection.  It is to be noted that even hours before her death, she mentioned to her family about threat to her life from the PNEM Coal mafia.
Aftermath developments:
After such a brutal murder, the police is trying to miss lead the nation by diverting the attention of the citizens to unimportant matters. The police, State and some sections of national media are trying to pass the blame on Sr. Valsa, a Human Right Activist who stood till her death to bring justice to the people.  From all these it is deemed that the police is trying to protect the PANEM Coal Mine mafia and to make the victim the accused. There seems to be an effort on the part of the police to side-track the main culprit PANEM Coal Mine and focus on a rape case of one of Valsa's co-workers which she was taking up and was to meet the SP/DC on the 16th November, 2011.
It is condemnable that the local administration is currently attempting to suppress the truth by intimidating the villagers and anti-displacement activists.
It is a matter of national shame that the pervasive nexus between powerful mining companies and the State machinery has cost the precious life of a woman a Human Right Activist like Sr. Valsa John.
 Her patriotism and contribution to the nation was evident that Sr. Valsa was running a school for Adivasi children in Amrapara to produce good citizens for the nation. She was also a herbal medicine practitioner which took care of the health of the poor tribals in absence of the state-established Health Centres.
Such brutal murder is very animalic and against human rights. It is against a woman's right to live with human dignity. It is against a woman's right to work in a condusive atmosphere. A woman has all rights to stand for justice and to work for the development of the citizens of this nation.
However the police suspect Maoist behind the murder. We are very slow to believe the versions of Police and the State authorities about the cause of her death and the accused in the murder. We have right to know the real culprits. When more than 50 people were involved in the brutal action, the police could have arrested at least one.
Though the incident took place on the evening of 15th November, 2011, the authorities concerned have not made any arrest to this effect in order to prove the cause of her death till date.

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