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6/5/2024 India (International Christian Concern) — About 15 Christian families in one tribal village have been denied basic human needs for three months due to a socio-economic boycott order issued by the local village council authority in Bastar district of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, according to a letter written to the police chief. 

Nearly 15 people have signed the letter, alleging numerous atrocities and social ostracism. 

The letter to the police chief contains a written complaint against the Gram Panchayat (village council) of Naspal, in which the Christians are permanent residents. It states that they are constantly told to forsake Christianity with the threats of socio-economic boycotts. 

The letter alleges that the Gram Panchayat is denying Christians drinking water, access to markets and grocery stores, and employment to drive them out of the village and take over their farming houses and livestock. 

Denying tribal Christians the right to lead peaceful and meaningful lives in their village has become the order of the day in an unabated vicious cycle of threats and intimidation in area after area in many districts of Chhattisgarh. 

Christians are facing this threat from the Gram Panchayats, the very authorities who are supposed to protect the rights of every villager.  

The Bastar district is a tribal-dominated area consisting of hundreds of villages whose residents are ordinarily known as Adivasis, which means “original inhabitants.” Many Adivasis have turned to Christ, which has become a flashpoint in the villages. 

In this latest instance, the 15 families allegedly were told to donate money for the village goddess fair and eat ritualistic food offered to the goddess. If they failed to do so, they would be banned from the village.  

The village council passed a resolution denying these claims. The resolution also stated that Christians could not do construction work, buy and sell land, or conduct any livelihood business. They were also stopped from tilling their agricultural lands to prepare for rice seeding in the upcoming rainy season. 

Further, those who interact with Christians would be fined roughly three days’ worth of daily wages for an ordinary villager. 

The Gram Panchayat also decided to ban any burial of Christians who had died, even though there was a Christian cemetery. 

In the letter, the signatories expressed fear for their lives because they remain Christians despite the threats laid out by the village council and have asked the police chief to provide security for their families. 

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