According to World Watch Monitor, the villages of Belar and Sirsiguda in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district have passed resolutions banning all non-Hindu religious activities, a move that has already led to a rise in anti-Christian violence, according to church leaders.
"The situation is becoming worse. The anti-Christian propaganda is becoming stronger," Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, told the persecution watchdog on July 15.
The resolution of the Sirsiguda village states: "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."
Indian religious freedom organisation, the Salt Foundation, reported that 10 Christians, including 3 pastors, became victims of assault following the adoption of the resolution.
Christians in the villages "were not given access to (rations) due to their religious practices and for not giving donations to the village's Hindu temple, as reported by our area coordinator," a report by the foundation said.
"Without the ration cards, they were not able to receive any food from the government ration shop and if they went and bought food from (shops in) the city it would be exorbitantly expensive. This made them raise a concern."
Pannalal has said that Hindu fundamentalists have been using the provision to "take the people for a ride" to enforce their agenda.
"Their strategy is to use the influential gram sabhas to adopt such controversial resolutions to mislead the locals to believe that banning non-Hindus is well within the law."
According to The Times of India, the Bastar district president of the World Hindu Council, Suresh Yadav, claimed that over 50 villages have adopted similar laws.
"The situation could get worse. We have to be vigilant," said Purna Sagar Nag, bishop of the Chhattisgarh diocese of the Church of North India.
"Right now, it is confined to [Bastar] district; it may spread to other areas."
Hinduism is experiencing a revival in India, and religious intolerance is on the rise, according to Open Doors. 'Anti-conversion laws' have been adopted in five states, and are frequently used as a pretext to disrupt church services and harass Christians. Pastors are frequently beaten up or killed, church buildings destroyed, and converts forced to flee their homes.
World Watch Monitor reports the story of Christians around the world under pressure for their faith. They are particularly concerned with reporting on the underlying causes of persecution, aiming to connect the dots to reveal the forces behind acts of violence and injustice. For more information visit www.worldwatchmonitor.org