In Nepal, Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya will spend one year in prison for alleged forced conversion activities after his court appeal was denied last week.
Keshav was arrested multiple times between 2020 and 2021 for the alleged conversion of Hindus to Christianity. On 30 November 2021, he was sentenced to two years in prison for alleged forced conversion. That sentence was reduced in June 2022 to one year, which was appealed by Keshav’s lawyer and ultimately denied last week.
The crux of Keshav’s defence centred around the argument that carrying religious materials and being asked to share his faith does not equate to forced conversion. He contended that these actions should be protected under Nepal’s constitution, which upholds freedom of religion. However, the court dismissed his logic, raising questions about the compatibility of the Nepalese legal system with the principles of religious freedom. This case highlights the flaws in legal systems that supposedly protect freedom of religion yet have anti-conversion laws.
Sources have reported an increase in violence and harassment against Christians in Nepal. There has been a noticeable rise in violence and harassment against Christians, with radical Hindus attacking churches and resorting to tactics such as tarring Christian faces black to humiliate and demean them. The rise of Radical Hinduism in the country, coupled with the apparent impunity enjoyed by attackers who target those they perceive as forcing conversions, has exacerbated the situation for religious minorities.