Police in Nepal have detained a Christian pastor on accusations of spreading false information after he was caught on video suggesting that prayer may be effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus. Pastor Keshab Acharya, 32, was arrested after it became apparent that he had been urging congregants to rebuke the novel coronavirus and pray for healing.
According to Pastor Keshab's wife, Junu Acharya, the trouble began when a man called Acharya and requested prayer for his sick wife. "The person wanted to come to our home for prayer, and my husband agreed, provided him the address and asked him to come over so we can pray for his wife,” Junu told Morning Star News. After the ill woman had arrived and was being prayed for, there was an unexpected knock at the door.
"Three male police officers and a female police officer were at the door," Junu explained. "They told us that they were also Christian and needed prayers, and that they had called Pastor Acharya and came for prayer.” But after gaining entry, the officers quickly surrounded the pastor and said they were arresting him.
“My husband said, ‘If there was any charge against me, you could have let me know directly, and I would have come to the police station all by myself,’ because our 2-year-old son and I were panicked,” Junu added. “I immediately called two of the brothers from our church who can drive and followed the police’s vehicle. I was afraid that he would be beaten up by police or would be taken to somewhere else. I wanted to ensure that they were taking him to the police station.”
Pastor Acharya now faces a sentence of up to six months for sharing false and misleading information with regards to the coronavirus. Police reportedly cited a video in which the minster labelled coronavirus an evil spirit and rebuked it in the name of Jesus.
In response to the arrest, Pastor Mukunda Sharma, the executive secretary of the Nepal Christian Society, has called upon the District Superintendent of Police, Dan Bahadur Karki, to drop the case against Pastor Acharya.