Gurkha veterans serve July 1 deadline to address their demands

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 19, 2019-

Rejecting the pension hike announced by the UK government recently, the agitating Gurkha veterans on Tuesday set July 1 deadline for both Nepal and British governments to meet their demands of pay, pension and facilities at par with British nationals serving in the British Army.

Earlier, they had given until March 18 for both the governments to initiate talks but there was no progress. After serving a fresh deadline, the Gurkhas have threatened to hit the streets in Kathmandu and London simultaneously.

They have warned of massive protests in the United Kingdom and Nepal and of creating disturbances at the centres where Nepali youths are recruited for the British Army if their demands are not met by July 1.

“We may stage sit-ins to indefinite hunger strike if the two governments fail to address our demands,” Krishna Bahadur Rai, chief coordinator of the Gurkha Joint Satyagraha Committee, told a news conference on Tuesday.

Last week, the British government announced to increase the pension by up to 34 percent for the Brigade of Gurkhas servicemen who joined before 2007. The decision was rejected by the Gurkha veterans, calling it a piecemeal approach.

British Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster made an announcement in London of an increased support package for 22,000 Gurkha veterans and their families, according to a statement issued by the British Ministry of Defence.

“The veterans, who all joined the Brigade of Gurkhas before 2007, will benefit from a £15 million [Rs2.2 billion] increase in the Gurkha Pension Scheme. While the increased remuneration will vary depending on an individual’s circumstances, veterans could receive increases of up to 34 percent in their pensions and with the increases being backdated to 1 January 2016, Gurkha pensioners will receive a total of £46m [Rs6.7 billion] extra this financial year,” the British government said in its statement. But Gurkha veterans said the offer is not acceptable to them, and it is not in line with the findings of the technical report submitted to both the governments last year.

“Our quest is for pensions and other facilities similar to those enjoyed by UK nationals in the British Army,” Rai said. “We have been facing the discrimination for 200 years and it should be ended right now.”

The Gurkha veterans have urged both the governments to start forming a high-level team to initiate dialogue as per the recommendation made by the Joint Technical Report last year to end the disparity.

Rai, former state minister Dilman Pakhrin, and other Gurkha veterans who spoke at the press conference called both the governments to respect the 1947 tripartite agreement between Nepal, India and Britain, which assured that all perks, remuneration, facilities and pension scheme for Nepalis serving in the British and Indian armies will be equal to the British and Indian nationals.

Published: 20-03-2019 07:00

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