Demanding a withdrawal of the reported ban on "entry of and propaganda by non-Hindu missionaries" in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district, the Catholic Archdiocese of Delhi said it had implications for the "secular ethos of India" and damaged its international reputation.
According to media reports, more than 50 gram panchayats in Bastar have passed orders under Section Section 129(G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act, banning "all non-Hindu relegious propoganda, prayers and speeches in villages", Delhi Archbishop Anil J T Couto said in a statement.
"This move is in violation of Constitutional rights and guarantees to citizens of India, such as the freedom of faith and the freedom of movement, expression and association," he said.
"It is a grave assault on the fundamental rights of individuals and peoples' groups," he said, adding that the move has serious implications for democratic functioning in such areas.
"It will also encourage fundamentalist and extremist religious organisations to indulge in hate campaigns against the Christian community," the Archbishop said.
Couto called for an immediate reversal of the ban and the intervention of the state government in the matter.
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