Christian bodies have urged the Chhattisgarh state government to intervene and revoke the ban on the entry of all non-Hindu religious missionaries in Bastar villages.
Addressing a press conference at the Raipur press club on Friday, representatives from the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF), Archdiocese of Raipur and Evangelical Fellowship of India alleged that more than 50 village councils of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region had passed a resolution “banning all non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches” in those villages.
Referring to a report published in The Hindu , CCF president Arun Pannalal said the ban was a blatant violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of India.
“These villages have banned the entry of non-Hindu religious missionaries under section 129(G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayat Act 1994. This Act is ultra vires of the constitution of India and the state government should scrap it,” said Mr. Pannalal.
Mr. Pannalal also alleged that 52 Christians were attacked in Sirisguda village which recently passed the resolution.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal, National Director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India claimed that his organisation has conveyed to the Union government and the Government of Chhattisgarh “its deep apprehension that the decisions of a number of village Panchayats in the Bastar region of banning the entry of Christian workers could lead to the large scale persecution of the minority community by aggressive groups”.
“The government must reverse the decisions of these Panchayats immediately to restore the confidence of the Christian community in Chhattisgarh, which is under considerable stress in recent days. There seems to be a well thought out pattern and sinister design behind these actions,” said Rev. Lal.
“The Christians in Chhattisgarh find themselves vulnerable with this anti-minority campaign. We demand that the government should take immediate steps to preserve our constitutional rights,” stated Fr. Sebastian Poomattam, the PRO of the Archdiocese of Raipur.
"We will go to court if the state government does not act on this issue," warned Mr. Pannalal.