Police in Nepal arrested four Christians from a hotel, including a woman from the United States, early Tuesday morning (April 23) on false charges of conversion by allurement, sources said.
Police from Dang Deukhuri District Police Headquarters in Ghorahi charged into the Hotel Doko in Ghorahi at 7 a.m. and detained Pastor Dilli Ram Poudel, 49, general secretary of the Nepal Christian Society; Gaurav Shrivastava, 34, a citizen of India; Kunsang Tamang, a Nepali woman from Sankhuwasabha District; and Oleana Cinquanta, a 49-year-old U.S. citizen from Colorado. Ghorari is 421 kilometers (261 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu.
Cinquanta was held for more than 10 hours without her medication before being deported to the United States, she said.
“The allegations are completely false,” Cinquanta texted Morning Star News while escorted by plainclothes police by bus to a flight back to the United States. “We were not distributing any Bibles or dollars.”
Police searched the Christians’ hotel rooms and confiscated Bibles as “evidence” of carrying out fraudulent conversions, Christian leader Pratik Bista told Morning Star News. Officers also confiscated U.S. dollars from Cinquanta’s room as evidence of “allurement to convert,” he said.
“How is it a crime for a Christian to carry his Bible, and how is it a crime for an American to carry dollars when visiting a foreign country?” Bista said. “If a Hindu carrying his holy scriptures is not a crime, then how does it apply on Christians? How could they come to the hotel and detain the Christians without a First Information Report?”
Having arrived on Sunday (April 21), Cinquanta said she was visiting a church program. Shrivastava had come to the hotel from India as a guest speaker for a Christian conference scheduled yesterday and today (April 23-24), organized by Bista.
Bista was a member of a delegation of five Christian leaders who visited the district police headquarters at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday (April 23) and met with Superintendent of Police Bel Bahadur Pandey, who led the officers making the arrests, citing reasons of “general inquiry.”
Pandey told the delegation that the Christians would be released by today (April 24), Bista told Morning Star News.
Media outlets in Nepal reported the Christians were detained for alleged involvement in preaching Christianity and for conversions through allurement in Ghorahi. The outlets alleged they were distributing Bibles and money.
“I was visiting a church program in Dang with my travel agent and some friends,” Cinquanta told Morning Star News. “No one was engaging in conversion.”
It should be expected that as a Christian she would be interested in seeing how Christians in other areas worship, she said.
“If I were a Hindu, I would be interested to go to visit temples, and no one would have complained,” Cinquanta said. “But because I go and participate in a Christian program, I’m accused of trying to convert people to a religion. And I’m accused entirely on the basis of my travel agent also being a pastor and not based on what I personally was doing. This is a serious human rights violation.”
Cinquanta’s flight from Kathmandu was scheduled to leave this evening (April 24). Pastor Poudel had to fly to Kathmandu Tuesday morning (April 23), while Shrivastava had to return to India by bus by 2 p.m. Wednesday, though they were still under police remand, according to Bista.
Christian leaders in Nepal expressed their shock at the detentions and deportation.
“When detained, these Christians were not preaching or roaming on the streets or even distributing anything,” Pastor Sagar Baizu, spokesperson of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN), told Morning Star News. “They were detained from their hotel rooms in early morning hours. It is shocking that they are kept in the police custody since 7:30 in the morning and not being released.”
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Source: Christian Headlines