Nepal: Eight Christians face trial for distributing Bibles

Seven Protestant Christians and a pastor could be tried for proselytising after being found distributing Bibles to school-children, Asia News reported.

Dolakha, Nepal, after it was hit by last year's major earthquake. Eight Christians have been arrested after distributing Bibles in the region.Reuters

A trial date has not yet been set but a court is preparing to charge the suspects, according to local sources.

The seven were arrested on 8 June after being caught handing out the Bibles to children at a school in the northern district of Dolakha, which was devastated by last year's major earthquake.

Then, on 14 June police also arrested Rev Shakti Pakhrin over his alleged ties to those under investigation for proselytising.

A few days later the group – which includes two teachers and activists for Teach Nepal, which is involved in post-quake reconstruction – was released but ordered to appear in court.

There have been claims that the group was tortured in custody as well as unjustifiably detained.

The indictment against them is that of distributing Bibles for the purpose of converting students, Asia News said.

The group is reportedly alleged to have violated Article 26, paragraph 3, of the Constitution of Nepal, which regulates religious freedom and states that "no person shall act or make others act in a manner which is contrary to public health, decency and morality, or...convert a person of one religion to another religion".

The group rejects the accusations and claims to have only distributed the materials to Christian children who asked for them. "We only gave it to them," said Prakash Pradhan, principal of Mount Valley Academy, a local private school.

The Federation of National Christian Nepal submitted a memorandum of defence to the Home Affairs Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet, calling for the accused to be released immediately. "Accusations against them are false and designed to create fear among other Christians," he said.