Revoke ban on non-Hindu missionaries in Chhattisgarh: Christian bodies

Published 28 July 2014  |  
Christian bodies have strongly urged the Chhatisgarh state government to revoke the ban on non-Hindu missionaries in villages in Bastar region of the state, they said the ban is "unconstitutional" and "should be scrapped".

Representatives from the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF), Archdiocese of Raipur and Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) who held a press conference at the Raipur Press Club on 11th July and condemned the ban.

CCF President Arun Pannanlal 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 claimed 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 (EFIRLC) said his organisation has intimated the Union government as well as the state government of "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.

Fr. Sebastian Poomattam, the PRO of the Archdiocese of Raipur said: "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,"

Mr. Pannalal said that they will go to court if the state government does not act on this issue.

More than 50 villages in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh have banned the entry and propaganda by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians in the last six months which is credited to the aggressive campaign launched by Hindu nationalist organization - Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Some Christian villagers also have been denied ration since the ban came into existence.

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