05/21/2020 Nepal (International Christian Concern) – In late March, Kaski District Police in Nepal arrested Pastor Keshav Acharya, age 32, for praying against the COVID-19 virus in a video that was widely circulated on social media. Police officials used the video as evidence to claim the pastor had spread false information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 23, Pastor Acharya’s wife reports that her husband received a call around 8 p.m. from a man requesting prayer for his sick wife. In response, Pastor Acharya invited the man to come to his house for prayer. When the knock at the door came later, four police officers were there and arrested Pastor Acharya.
According to Nepal Christian Society (NCS), the Senior Superintendent of Police released a memo four days after the arrest, on March 27, stating that the pastor was spreading false propagation about COVID-19. The District Court then ordered Pastor Acharya to pay a 5,000 Rupee ($40.00 USD) fine after Pastor Acharya spent over two weeks in jail.
Pastor Acharya was arrested a second time three days later on the basis of violating Penal Code 9:156 & 158. Following this arrest, bail was set at an unexpected excessive of 500,000 Rupees ($4,083.00 USD), forcing Pastor Acharya to serve more jail time. After two months of imprisonment, Pastor Acharya’s family spent everything they had on bail fees and, as a result, the church’s property rent went unpaid.
Pastor Mukunda Sharma, Executive Secretary of the NCS, urged the District Superintendent of Police, Dan Bahadur Karki, to understand that the pastor did not commit any crime and they cannot prosecute Pastor Acharya for exercising his faith. According to Morning Star News, Superintendent Karki assured Pastor Sharma that Pastor Acharya was taken only for an inquiry.
However, no one has been allowed to see Pastor Acharya due to COVID-19. This includes the pastor’s legal counsel and his family. The Kaski police also quietly transferred Pastor Acharya to a prison in the mountains called Dolpa jail, a remote location where motor vehicles are not used.
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