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Gurkhas fought and died for Britain. They should not have to beg for their pensions

Tim I Gurung

Since 1815, the Gurkhas have fought in every war involving Britain, yet they are still fighting for equal rights

  • The Gurkhas have been mistreated and taken for granted by both British and Nepalese governments
A Gurkha veteran speaks through a megaphone during a protest outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: HandoutA Gurkha veteran speaks through a megaphone during a protest outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: Handout
A Gurkha veteran speaks through a megaphone during a protest outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: Handout

After Britain’s Ministry of Defence failed to address their long-term grievances, three British Gurkhas – Gyanraj Rai, Dhan Gurung and Gurkha widow Pushpa Rana Ghale – have been camped outside 10 Downing Street since August 7, 

vowing to continue a hunger strike
 even if it costs them their lives.

 

Police have sought to evict them but their campaign to ensure equal military pensions for former Gurkha soldiers, originally from Nepal, has begun to attract support from the British public.

Gurkhas have been 

fighting for equality
 for the past 30 years. Despite being renowned for their bravery and impeccable soldiery, the Gurkhas have been mistreated and taken for granted by both British and Nepalese governments.

 

Despite not being a member country of the Allied forces, Nepal sent more 200,000 Gurkhas to World War I, fighting throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. One in 10 Gurkhas did not return. Similarly, in World War II, more than 250,000 Gurkhas went to fight for the British. More than 33,000 of them died.

 
 

Since 1815, 

Gurkhas have fought
 in every war involving Britain, yet they are still fighting for equal rights.

 

 

The main problem arises from the treaty signed by Britain, India and Nepal in 1947, which remains the basis for Gurkhas enlisting in the British Army. After India gained independence, four Gurkha regiments followed the British and moved to Malaysia and Singapore while six Gurkha regiments joined the newly formed Indian Army.

Dhan Gurung, Pushpa Rana Ghale and Gyanraj Rai continue their hunger strike outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: AFP
Dhan Gurung, Pushpa Rana Ghale and Gyanraj Rai continue their hunger strike outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: AFP

Instead of integrating the Gurkhas into the British Army, a separate system was created to manage Gurkhas’ pay and pensions. This system remained subject to the Indian Pay Code even years after the Gurkhas left India. As a result, the Gurkhas never received the same pay or pension as their peers in the British Army. The main motive was to pay the Gurkhas as little as possible, and the British have succeeded until now.

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