After spending almost two years in prison, a Nepali pastor was released on July 17th. According to reports, the pastor was imprisoned after being arrested for allegedly eating beef, an act seen as criminal by the Hindu majority in Nepal. Although it is legal for non-Hindus to eat beef in Nepal, this pastor was arrested and jailed after Hindus in his village attacked the pastor, burned down his house and claimed that they had seen him kill a cow and eat beef. Christian persecution in Nepal’s Hindu majority society continues to escalate as many Hindu nationalists are calling for Nepal to transition back to being a Hindu nation.
9/4/2014 Nepal (Barnabas Aid) – On 17 July, the Nepali authorities released a Christian pastor who had been incarcerated for almost two years after being arrested for eating beef.
In October 2012, Pastor Chhedar Lhomi Bhote (37) was arrested after a mob of Hindu militants burned down his home in north-east Nepal. After discovering that the minister had eaten beef, local residents, in an uproar, claimed that they also saw him killing a cow, an act considered a criminal offence in Nepal.
The pastor, who is the leader of small church community, was brought to court and sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment. His subsequent release is thought to have been prompted by petitions to the Nepali government and the work of several Christian NGOs.
Pastor Bhote and his family were living in a remote area, near the Tibetan Autonomous Region, in which it is legal for non-Hindus to eat beef. But to do so is socially unacceptable in Hindu-majority Nepal, because of the sacred status that Hinduism affords to cows.
Although Hindu-majority Nepal is now a secular democracy, it was a Hindu kingdom until 2006, and Christians today face pressure from Hindu nationalists who see the growth of the Church as a threat.