NEW DELHI — A 53-year-old nun from Kerala who led campaigns to defend tribal rights was shot dead in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.
Sister Valsa John, who belonged to the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, was killed early Nov. 15 near her home near the city of Dumka, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
Bishop Julius Marandi of Dumka said Nov. 16 that the circumstances surrounding her death remained unclear.
Sister Lilly Mary, the order’s provincial, said Sister Valsa John was working with people belonging to the Santhal tribe and was living alone.
She had been protesting mining companies that were exploiting the tribal people of the region, Sister Lilly Mary said.
Sister Valsa John was arrested in 2007 for protesting a coal mine on tribal land that had allegedly been acquired illegally. However, the provincial said that case had been settled.
The Catholic bishops’ conference spokesman, Father Babu Joseph, said the local church would demand a thorough investigation by the state government.