The Gurkha veterans, who staged a relay hunger strike in front of the office of the British Prime Minister for the past 17 days demanding equal pension pay, have now launched a fast-unto-death campaign.
Gyan Raj Rai, a Gurkha veteran and a participant in the hunger strike, shared they were forced to launch fast-unto-death after their demands were not addressed despite repeatedly approaching both Nepal and British governments through several mediums.
“We resorted to staging fast-unto-death strike as all other alternatives have been used up.”
In a letter sent last Saturday to the Coordinator of British Gurkha Satyagraha United Struggle Committee, Krishna Bahadur Rai, Nepal government had urged them to call off their hunger strike assuring that their demand would be addressed through diplomatic negotiations with the British government.
However, the agitating side denied the proposal. Struggle Committee Coordinator Rai said that the hunger strike would continue until and unless British government sends an authorized letter stipulating a date for dialogue.
Gurkha veterans, Gyan Raj Rai, Pushpa Ghale and Dhan Bahadur Gurung are sitting for the fast-unto-death. Various Nepali organizations based in the United Kingdom and British citizens have also demonstrated solidarity to the campaign launched by ex-Gurkhas for justice, coordinator Rai shared.
Representatives of Nepali organizations that were established for the welfare of ex-Gurkhas had called on Nepal’s Ambassador to the UK, Lokdarshan Regmi to apprise him of the fast-unto-death.
The British Gurkha veterans had staged a 13-day-long relay hunger strike in front of the British Prime Minister’s Office at 10 Downing Street in London from July 21 saying that the Nepali and British governments had turned a deaf ear to their demands despite repeated requests.
As per the Struggle Committee, the Gurkha soldiers in the British Army have been systemically prejudiced and segregated.
They are compensated 1800% – 2000% less in pay and pension compared to any British soldier.
“To bring attention to the continued discrimination, Gurkha veteran Gyanraj Rai went on a hunger strike unto death, for 15 days, in 2013. To persuade Rai to end the hunger strike, the British Government promised a thorough investigation of the Gurkha grievances. That ended in a sham,” the Committee said in a press statement.
The agitating British Gurkha ex-servicemen have long been staging protests demanding pension parity and other perks and benefits as compared to their British counterparts.
The agitating Struggle Committee has demanded that the British government ensure equal pension, free of cost health facilities, residential visa to their children and equal pension to the widows of the British Gurkha servicemen killed in line of duty as compared to their British counterparts.
Similarly, they have urged the governments of Nepal and Britain to promptly start dialogue over the Report of Technical Committee that comprises the UK envoy to Nepal, Minister of Defense (UK) and representatives of British Gurkha ex-servicemen associations.
They have also asked the Nepal government to recognize the report, introduced on 15 March 2019 by the International Relations Committee of the federal parliament, as a guiding instrument.