By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- One of India's main advocacy organizations representing churches and mission groups expressed shock Saturday, April 28, that the Hindu-led government of Andhra Pradesh "banned Christianity" in several parts of the volatile state.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) told BosNewsLife that authorities plan to "clam down" on those promoting other religions than Hinduism, including Christianity, a move that was expected to impact especially Christian evangelists and missionaries.
GCIC said it has learned that special "demarcation" lines will be drawn of areas where propagation of Christianity is banned, starting in the small Hindu town of (Dwaraka) Tirumala after government officials spoke of receiving complaints about mission activities there.
Those violating the government imposed rules would face punishment of up to three years imprisonment and/or a fine of maximum 5,000 India Rupees ($123).
The ordinance approved by the cabinet, a copy of which was distributed by GCIC, said that "With a view to maintain public order, tranquility and serenity of a place of worship or prayer" [the ordinance] prohibits "propagation of a religion other than the religion traditionally practiced at such place, by words, either spoken or written or signs or by visible representation or distribute any printed material or other forms of religious literature."
It added that the government "shall notify such places of worship or prayer from time to time." GCIC said the move "to ban propagation of Christianity is a blatant violation of the Indian constitution." The group said it fears that the legislation "will embolden radicals in society to take law into their hands and launch unprecedented attacks against Christians."
The move comes as Christians are already on edge in the state after suspected Hindu militants recently killed 29-year old pastor, Goda Israel. His body was found with stab wounds on February 20 in a canal near his house in Pedapallparru village in Krishna district.
Another pastor, identified as Rev.Premkumar, was also murdered in March last year while in May 2005, pastors, K. Daniel and K. Isaac Raju, were killed near Hyderabad, the state capital, GCIC and other investigators said.
The GCIC also recalled that September 11, 2000, "two unidentified persons beheaded Pastor Yesu Dasu, 52, on the outskirts of Mustabad in Andhra Pradesh's Karimnagar district."
Dasu's body was reportedly found in a pool of blood at a cattle shed near along a high way near the town of Karimnagar. Hindu extremists had earlier warned Dasu to cease preaching or face the consequences, investigators said.
Therefore the "GCIC appeals to [Andhra Prasesh's] government to punish the perpetrators of attacks on Christians" and fight for "social justice and equality," said GCIC President Sajan George.
The tensions in the state come amid reports of an increase of violent attacks against India's Christian minority across the country. Officially Christians comprise just over two percent of India's predominantly Hindu population of over 1.1 billion people, but church workers say Christianity is rapidly spreading in especially rural areas and among Dalits, seen as the 'lowest caste' in India's ancient tradition of Hinduism. (With reporting from India and BosNewsLife Research).
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