On the morning of April 23rd, police in the city of Ghorahi, located in Nepal’s Dang District, arrested at least four individuals for their alleged involvement in religious conversion by “allurement”. According to the NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the police detained a Christian society leader, an Indian national, a citizen of Colorado and a Nepali interpreter at their hotel.
It is believed that among those arrested were Pastor Dilli Ram Paudel, General Secretary of the Nepal Christian Society; Gaurav Srivastava, an Indian citizen. Morning Star News identified the American as Oleana Cinquanta, a resident of Colorado and an American citizen. The arrests come as religious freedom in Nepal continues to deteriorate under the country’s controversial anti-conversion law that was enacted in August 2018.
Proselytization is now considered a criminal offense in Nepal. The process of criminalizing religious conversion began in 2015 when Nepal adopted a new constitution. According to Article 26 (3) of the new constitution, “No person shall behave, act or make others act to disturb public law and order situation or convert a person of one religion to another or disturb the religion of other people…such an act shall be punished by law.”
On August 17, 2018, the Nepalese government enacted this controversial portion of the new constitution. Under these new laws, any individual found guilty of even encouraging religious conversion can be fined up to 50,000 Rupees and placed in prison for up to five years.
Pray for Christians in Nepal, that they remain strong in the face of increased persecution, for many to come to Christ despite the current law, and for the international community to hold Nepal accountable for this attack on religious freedom.