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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK

World: South Asia

Gurkhas protest over unequal pensions

The campaign has been running for five years

Thousands of retired Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who once served in the British army have staged a demonstration demanding pensions and other benefits equal to their British counterparts.

Several thousand family members joined the 5,000 soldiers in their protest march in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

Demonstrators accused the British Government of discrimination.

"We Gurkhas are an integral part of the British national army, not mercenaries, and therefore we want the same facilities as our British counterparts," said Padam Gurung, chairman of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Organisation (GAESO).

The demonstration took place a day before GAESO was due to host an international conference to draw attention to its four-point campaign.


The organisation says a retired Nepalese Gurkha corporal receives £21 per month, whereas his British counterpart gets £500.

GAESO is also calling for:

  • compensation for thousands of Gurkha soldiers who were made redundant after the two World Wars
  • residential visas for retired soldiers in Britain
  • education and employment for these soldiers' children.

Britain denies the allegation of discrimination.

It argues that the pay and other benefits received by the Nepalese Gurkhas are determined on the basis of a tri-partite treaty between Nepal, Britain and India, dating back to when Britain withdrew from the Indian subcontinent.

In terms of this agreement, Nepalese Gurkhas serving in the British army were to be paid according to a local scale, to discourage Nepalese soldiers from abandoning Nepal's own army in favour of the British forces.

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