Friday, March 21, 2008

Gurkha war veterans protest ‘discrimination’

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: In a symbolic protest against what they called “immoral discrimination” 50 Gurkha veterans, who served in the British army, have returned their medals as part of their campaign to be treated on par with their fellow British soldiers.

They handed over the medals — awarded to them for their long service and good conduct — to the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who said he would pass them to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to shame the government into considering their demand. The “handover,” held at a sombre event near the Houses of Parliament, marked the start of a new phase of Gurkhas’ protest over the British Government’s policy under which Gurkhas who retired before 1997 get much lower pension than their British counterparts and do not enjoy automatic right to remain in Britain.

Gurkhas argue that this is discriminatory as on the battlefield they faced the same risks as their British colleagues and their sacrifices are no less. One angry Gurkha veteran said he was without a job and could barely survive on the meagre pension he received after serving for 17 years in the British army.

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