RANCHI: The Jharkhand Police on Sunday arrested seven people for activist-nun Valsa John's murder and said they had cracked the case. The Sisters of Charity nun was killed in Pakur district last week by a mob in presence of suspected Maoists.
Describing the case as "complex", Dumka inspector-general Arun Oraon said the immediate reason why Valsa was lynched was to prevent her from taking a rape victim to the police and save the alleged rapist, Edwin Murmu, from arrest. "The accused admitted that Valsa was killed on November 15 because she was taking a rape victim to the police. If they hadn't killed her, the accused alleged, she could have used her influence to get Murmu arrested," said Oraon. Among those arrested is Ranjan Marandi, with known links to Maoists. Around 45 people, including 30 Maoists, were present at the time of the nun's murder. "The Maoists are trying to make inroads into Pakur to extort money from a mining company. The rebels, however, did not use firearms to kill her. They let the villagers do that so that they could convey a message that even an influential person like Valsa could be killed if Maoists did not approve of that person," said Oraon.
Sister Valsa had support in the village because of her participation in the anti-displacement campaigns in the past one decade. But there were also sections that competed with her organization of displaced people for the work given out by the mining company.
A few days before she was lynched, Maoists had torched two earth-movers of a road construction company, showing signs of increasing firepower in the district.
"Over the past few years, there has been marked improvement in the lives of people engaged in direct business with Panem. On the other hand, those who worked with Valsa and got their share of development work allotted by the company to displaced people were not able to make much money. Since they saw Valsa as a hindrance, some villagers joined hands with Maoists and killed her. They thought that once Valsa was out, they would get her share of the work," said Oraon.
The work was allotted to the association headed by Valsa according to the agreement reached between Panem and the displaced families. Those arrested apart from Ranjan Marandi are Pradhan Hembrom and Rakesh Turi of Alubeda; and Basil Hembrom, Prem Turi and Tala Hembrom of Pachuara.
Describing the case as 'complex', police said the reason why Valsa was lynched was to prevent her from taking a rape victim to the police and save the rapist from arrest.