On January 19, an ardent new believer in Nepal was killed in crossfire, the latest of at least 27 deaths in eastern Nepal due to clashes between government forces and the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF).

Sixteen-year-old Ramesh Mahato had received salvation on January 1 after hearing about Jesus from a Gospel for Asia missionary. Ramesh was on his way to a market when he was shot and killed.

Violence has erupted in Ramesh’s area between government soldiers and the MPRF, who began protesting against the Nepal government’s precarious interim constitution, burning copies of the document in the capital. They say the new constitution does not give enough representation to the Madheshi people, who make up approximately one-third of Nepal’s population.

Fighting broke out when MPRF leaders were arrested for the burnings, and other MPRF workers began demanding their release. Government troops have struggled to gain control of the area by imposing numerous curfews.

On his way to go shopping, Ramesh was hit by a government bullet and died immediately. MPRF fighters burned over a dozen vehicles after Ramesh was shot, and the situation was so tense that no one could remove his body from the street for two days. Finally, government troops took his body to be cremated, but at the same time they abducted Ramesh’s mother and one of his brothers. Their situation is unknown.

In early February, Nepal Prime Minister Girija Koirala called for talks, promising to meet the demands of the MPRF, who in response agreed to suspend the violence for 10 days.

Sporadic violence has broken out across Nepal since the Maoist party became part of the mainstream government. On February 13, a “victory march” in Kathmandu marked their success 11 years after the beginning of the Maoists’ fight for power. Now, other conflicts have arisen that were previously overshadowed by the main Maoist insurgency, with groups protesting and threatening to take up arms if their demands are not met.

Please continue to pray for the Lord’s peace in Nepal. And, although Ramesh’s life as a Christian was so short, pray that his dedication to Christ will lead others to salvation.