Posted by: becketfund | January 24, 2007

India: Government in Chhattisgarh Attempts to Reclaim Land from Churches

The Union of Catholic Asian News reports that 90,000 tribal people held a demonstration in India’s Chhattisgarh State on January 22, to protest the government’s attempts to reclaim land that had been legally sold to the Catholic Church. Participants claim that the state government, controlled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, are abusing a law that prohibits non-tribal people from purchasing tribal land, filing cases against Catholic organizations currently occupying the land while ignoring Hindu and non-religious landowners in the same situation. Residents of the area say their parents sold the land to the missions willingly, as non-tribal land in the area did not exist, and that they welcome the church’s presence because it provides schools, saying the government has no money for or interest in educating tribal people. Jashpur, the only area where the law is being invoked, has the highest Catholic population in Chhattisgarh.

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