A day after Valsa John’s murder, the local police investigating the case ruled out involvement of Naxals or mining mafia in the case. Police officials suspect hand of some alienated tribals behind it who were of the opinion that their interests were sold to the companies behind the Panem coalmine project with the 2006 Agreement.
But links to her brutal killing may well go back to the days of ‘Raj Mahal Pahar Bachao Andolan’ (RMPBA). It all began when she suspected something foul during a land survey in the village Pachwara. The survey team could not satisfy her queries and that made her to go out for more information. Later she found out a total of 1151.70 acres of land was to be acquired to dig out a captive coal mine for Punjab Electricity Board. More than half of this (674.2 acres) was agricultural land – an alarming situation as agriculture being the mainstay of the life. A large scale displacement of many families was to follow with no clear terms of compensation defined. She educated and sensitized the tribals of the area for their rights and was able to build a movement from the scratch that ultimately followed the next step of the Movement – the December 2006 Agreement between the Andolam and Panem on terms as demanded by the RMPBA.
The battle saw many ups and downs. Administration and the Panem handlers (JV of a state government outfit and a private company) tried every trick in the book to weaken the Movement. They offered the village youth with lucrative offers with the sole intent to disrupt the protests. It divided the tribals into pro- and anti- Panem factions. But the basics of the Movement were strong and the pro-Panem faction couldn’t achieve much. Further came the arm-twisting of the administration to exploit the legal machinery. Multiple cases were imposed on key persons of the Movement including seven cases on Valsa John. Valsa and many others had to leave the village for forest for more than a month. But the Movement remained intact and gained attention from every quarters, media, politicians, locals and activists. There were active consultations with and involvement of organizations like Bharat Jan Andolan, Mine, Minerals and People (MMP), Jharkhand for Justice and people like Xavier Dias and Stan Lourdusamy.
Persistence of the Movement finally brought the Panem management on the discussion board resulting it in the December 2006 Agreement. Largely, the outcome created positive atmosphere but left some segments with grudge:
- The pro-Panem segment during the agitation phase who later on blamed the Movement
- Local mining mafia of the region who saw their operation gone with an organized government based outfit taking the charge
- A segment of the tribal population who alleged Valsa to selling off to the company
- Or the Naxals who are getting increasingly intolerant and extortionist in their activities and try to scuttle every conscious voice in their area of influence.
Any of these groups might be behind brutal killing of Valsa John. The way she was killed (around 50 circled the house she was staying at; half of them entered and hacked her to death) tells it might be some alienated group of tribals either having a grudge or instigated by the local mining mafia or even the bunch on Naxals (they have carried out executions in this way in the past). Every Movement driven by the force of the common man needs answer here and that has to be soon, very soon.