07/08/2014, 00.00
INDIA
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Chhattisgarh: village bans non-Hindu activities

by Nirmala Carvalho
Local council in Belar bans all non-Hindu religious activities. For GCIC President, India is a secular state and must ensure "respect for human rights," including freedom of worship. He also calls for an end to discriminatory rules in matters of faith.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - India's supreme status as a secular state, which is to guarantee freedom of worship across the country, has been violated once more, said in a statement Christian activist Sajan K George

Mr George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), spoke after another village, in Bastar District in the central state of Chhattisgarh, banned religious activities that "do not belong to the Hindu tradition". In thiscase of anti-minority abuse, the local council (gram sabha) in the village of Belar, Lohandiguda, approved on Sunday a resolution banning non-Hindu rituals, cults and practices. 

In fact, systematic attacks on minorities have been occurring for many years in South Asian nation. Increasingly, non-Hindus have seen their right to free worship reduced.

On 10 May, the village council of Sirisguda, in Tongpal, banned non-Hindu missionaries. The measure was adopted to "stop forced conversions" perpetrated by some "foreign activists" who use "defamatory language" against "Hindu deities and traditions," the statement said.

Similarly, on 16 June, in another district of Chhattisgarh, a group of Christian families was targeted and beaten by Hindu fundamentalists.

A few days later, on 26 June, the council of more than 35 villages in the mostly tribal district of Bastar (Chhattisgarh) banned entry to not Hindus to prevent them from "damaging" the culture and religion of the community.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George said that India is a "secular state" and is party to the United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified.

Hence, on behalf of the members of GCIC, the Christian activist called for urgent action against discriminatory rules in order to ensure respect for the constitution and guarantee everyone's right "to the free practice of religion."

For several years, the State of Chhattisgarh has had a so-called 'anti-conversion law' (Chhattisgarh Religion Freedom Act of 2006).

Under its terms, would-be converts are required to inform a district magistrate a month in advance of their decision to change religion. The latter in turn has the power to give or withhold permission to convert.

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