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ICC Note:

Over the summer months, about 50 villages in India’s Chhattisgarh state passed bans on all Christian activity taking place within the village limits. Essentially, the am of these bans was to outlaw Christianity altogether from these villages. Christians organizations in Chhattisgarh filed a petition at the High Court in early September and the court has now been persuaded to side with the Christians saying that these village bans violate India’s constitution under its religious freedom article. 

10/3/2014 India (ICAN) – In a positive move for Christians, the Bilaspur High Court in India has been persuaded by Christian organizations to oppose a ban preventing non-Hindu religious missionaries from entering villages in Bastar district.

Governing bodies in Bastar, Chhattisgarh state, were given three weeks from 8 September to respond to a petition by Christian bodies questioning the constitutionality of the ban. The wording of the ban appears to prohibit non-Hindu religious activities altogether, undermining religious freedom in the area.

In May 2014, a resolution passed under section 129(G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act declared:

To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirisguda Village Council bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of non-Hindu religions.

The resolution was agreed to by more than 50 Gram Panchayat (assemblies in self-governing small towns and villages) in Bastar. It was immediately opposed by the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, which filed the petition with the High Court.

Despite this, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu fundamentalist organization, has continued to demand that the ban be fully implemented.

Furthermore, it is reported that the VHP and other Hindu extremists have increasingly attacked and discriminated against Christians in the region as a result of the ban. Ten Christians, including three pastors, have been assaulted by Hindu radicals because of the ban, according to the Salt Foundation, an Indian religious freedom organization.

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