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5/9/2024 India (International Christian Concern) — In a landmark decision that will have ramifications across India regarding the burial rights of Christians, the High Court of Chhattisgarh in Central India ruled in late April that a man has the right to Christian burial on his own land.

The man, Ishwar Korram, 54, died on April 25 at an area hospital. Local police prevented Ishwar’s son, Sarthik Korram, from burying his father because of his father’s Christian faith. Leaders of Ishwar’s Hindu-majority village also opposed the burial and offered no place for people of other faiths to bury their loved ones. 

The high court overruled the objections of police and other local authorities in response to a petition filed by Sarthik. It directed local authorities to ensure Ishwar’s Christian funeral rites were allowed to take place on his family’s land despite vigorous opposition from village authorities. 

“It is already a well-settled principle of law that Article 21 of The Constitution of India includes the right of a person to have a decent burial,” the court said in a statement. “Right to life implies a meaningful life with human dignity … and this right also extends to a person who is dead. This right exists until the death of a person, which covers the right to a decent life up to death, including a decent death procedure.” 

In the days leading up to the decision, fights over the right to a Christian burial erupted between villagers supported by Hindu nationalist organizations and Christian groups. Police blocked entry into the village to help defuse the situation. 

Under heavy police protection, Sarthik was able to bury his father on his father’s land on April 28. 

According to members of the Bastar District Christian Seva Samiti, the high court’s order is a victory for Christians, who have been denied burial rights as a form of persecution. It is common in India for Hindu villagers to deny Christian families the right to bury their loved ones unless they return to Hinduism.  

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