Nun slain in India faced threats from mine bosses

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2011 4:44 AM
Nun slain in India faced threats from mine bosses

A Catholic nun who was hacked to death in eastern India had been threatened by coal mine bosses for defending the rights of local tribespeople, her family said Thursday.

Sister Valsa John was fighting on behalf of hundreds of people who had been displaced by mining operations in Jharkhand state, her brother M.J. Baby said.

During a recent visit home John had complained that she had received threats purportedly from local coal mine owners, Baby said.

Jharkhand police said around 50 men barged into the house where John, 53, was staying in the state's Pakur district. Her mutilated body was found by police Wednesday.

John joined the order of the Sisters of Charity 24 years ago.

She had been working among poor tribespeople in Pakur and in recent months had been leading protests against the displacement of local villagers caused by mining operations in the area.

Pakur is about 240 miles (385 kilometers) southeast of Patna, the capital of neighboring Bihar state.

Coal extraction in mineral-rich Jharkhand is largely controlled by a powerful mafia that operates illegal mines. The coal is then sold on the black market.

The mafia has in the past attacked, and even killed, officials and rights activists who have objected to their exploitation of tribespeople.