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Keshab And Junu Portrait Smiling

Pastor sentenced to jail over prayer 

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Topic | Persecution

On 23 March 2021, Pastor Keshab received a call from a man requesting prayer for his sick wife. In response, Pastor Keshab invited the man to come to his house for prayer. When the knock at the door came later, four police officers were there to arrest him.

In November 2021, the Dolpa District Court sentenced pastor Keshab Raj Acharya, 32, to two years in prison and a fine of 20,000 Nepali rupees (approx. 150 EUR) for “outraging religious feelings” and “proselytizing” after he shared gospel tracts and prayed with fellow citizens. 

He has appealed the ruling and is temporarily free on bail. There are two other pending cases against him for prayer and evangelism. 

Who:
Pastor Keshab Raj Acharya

Where:
Dolpa District Court, Nepal

Advocacy Team:
Tehmina Arora

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"No one should be sentenced for praying and sharing the gospel. Nepalese citizens have a fundamental right to practice and profess the religion of their choice, in accordance with international standards."

- Tehmina Arora, Director of Advocacy, Asia for ADF International Tweet quote

Case Summary

On 23 March 2021, pastor Keshab was arrested after offering to pray for a man’s sick wife. He was released on 8 April 2021 only to be re-arrested moments later on charges of “outraging religious feelings” and “proselytizing” because he had been distributing gospel tracts. The Dolpa District Attorney’s office filed charges on 21 May 2021 under Nepal’s Criminal Code which prohibits converting anyone from one religion to another.

Pastor Keshab was denied bail on 22 May 2021, but after over a month the district judge decided to release him temporarily on bail equivalent to 2,300 EUR. Five days after the order, he was released on 3 July 2021.

On 30 November 2021, the court sentenced Pastor Keshab to two years in prison and a fine of 20,000 Nepali rupees (approx. 150 EUR) for printing and distributing gospel tracts. He has appealed the ruling and is temporarily free on bail.

Reflecting on almost three months of imprisonment before his sentencing, Pastor Keshab said: “It was very difficult for me. I would think of my little children and my wife, and I would cry out to the Lord in prayer. I would look up at Him in hopes that if it is His will that I should be put through this, He would get me out of this.”

In partnership with local allies, ADF International is supporting Pastor Keshab’s legal defence.

Govind Sharma, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nepal and Keshab’s lawyer said: “The decision of the District Court in November to sentence Pastor Keshab to two years in prison is shocking. Pastor Keshab was merely helping sick people by praying to God for their wellbeing. The District Court’s decision goes beyond the scope of the law and must be corrected. We have filed Pastor Keshab’s appeal and continue fighting for his acquittal.”

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