The court of additional district and session Judge of Pakur on Friday sentenced 16 people to life imprisonment for killing social activist Sister Valsa Joan in Pakur district four years ago.
Sister Valsa had been brutally killed around midnight on November 15, 2011 at Kathaldih village in the district.
District and sessions Judge Omprakash Srivastav, who convicted them on October 13, delivered the sentence under Indian Penal Code sections 302/149.
Sections 302/149 state that if an offence be committed by any member of an unlawful assembly, every other member of such assembly shall be guilty of the offence — life term.
The additional public prosecutor (APP), Pawan Toppo said the were also fined `10,000 each under section 302, 120 (b), 147, 148, 407 and 485 of the Indian Penal Code. All the accused were sent to Pakur jail after the judgment.
The accused include Paisil Hembrum, Adwin Murmu, Rakesh Turi, Tala Marandi, Prem Turi, Munshi Hembrum, Ranjan Marandi, Pradhan Murmu, Bablu Murmu of Katahaldih, Bablu Murmu of Alubeda, Suresh Murmu, Raju Murmu, Jairam Marandi, Jeetan Baski, Najir Soren and Sahen Madaiya.
The Amrapara police under Pakur district had lodged an FIR against the accused on November 16, 2011.
The defense lawyer said the accused had given a statement in the court in January 2012 accepting their involvement in murder of Sister Valsa. He said he would file a petition in the High court against the judgment.
About 15 years ago, Sister Valsa, after completing her BEd from Ernakulum in Kerala, joined the Sister of Charity and came to the Santhal Parganas to serve her services to the tribals.
She formed a non-government organisation named Pahad Bachao Andolan with the support of the local tribals of Amrapara block under Pakur district.
She was active in fighting for the rights of villagers threatened by coal miners.