Indian villages ban open practice of non-Hindu faiths

A spokesman for the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum said the village of Belar, in central India, convened a Gram Sabha, or village assembly, on 6 July and passed a resolution banning all non-Hindu religious activities. This echoed a Gram Sabha of representatives from about a dozen villages held 10 May in nearby Sirsiguda village. There, the delegates passed a resolution banning the outward practice of non-Hindu faiths.

“To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirsiguda Gram Sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions,” said the text of the resolution.

Rev. Aneesh Andrews, Methodist district superintend for the region, told World Watch Monitor that after the resolutions are passed, poor Christian families in some villages have been denied government rations of staples such as wheat, rice and sugar, and access to village water sources such as tube wells and common ponds.

“In some places, the passing of the resolution has been followed by attacks on pastors and pulling down of village churches,” Andrews said.

“It is not just passing of a resolution,” he said. “This is a ploy to harass Christians.”