Make a vow to continue campaigning
13th January 2010: Gurkha veterans have lost the case against Britain’s Ministry of Defence over pension rights, but have vowed to continue campaigning.
The Nepalese force had initiated the legal battle in the London High Court for same pension rights as British soldiers, soon after a public campaign led by actress Joanna Lumley succeeded in overturning the Government’s ban on allowing Gurkhas retiring before 1997 to settle in the UK.
Expressing disappointment, general secretary of British Gurkha Welfare Society Chhatra Rai said this was not likely to be the end of the road.
Describing it as a “moral issue”, it was asserted that veterans in the group were becoming old and fragile and did not possess the level of English necessary to find a job.
Society chairman Major Tikendra Dal Dewan said most of these Gurkhas were, therefore, not able to work to supplement their pension.
It was added many of the veterans lived in very impoverished conditions. They were likely to come to live in the UK now. If 10,000 to 15,000 came to the UK, it could cost the Government 300-400 million pounds. Paying the pension rights would cost an estimated 74 million pounds.
The Society had earlier challenged the British Ministry of Defence’s pension arrangements, which they claim breach age and race discrimination laws.
As per the regulations, around 24,000 Gurkhas, who retired before July 1 1997, are not entitled to be transferred to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. Another 7,000 Gurkhas with less than 15 years’ service receive no payments at all.