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The BBC's Gareth Jones
"A basic wage of just 17.50 per month"
 real 56k

Monday, 20 November, 2000, 06:12 GMT
Gurkha accuses 'racist' MoD
Gurkha troops in Kosovo
Gurkha troops served as peacekeepers in Kosovo
A former British Army Gurkha is appearing before an industrial tribunal accusing the Ministry of Defence of race discrimination.

The ex-soldier says that during his 15 years of service his pay and conditions were inferior to British soldiers and he is now claiming compensation.

The Nepalese Gurkhas form one of the British Army's best known regiments.

Pay changes

Although they serve alongside British soldiers, their pay, conditions and pensions were significantly worse until changes were made in 1997.

Former Lance Corporal Hari Thapa, who now lives as a security guard in Cwmbran in South Wales, retired from the regiment two years ago.

For much of his time in the army he had been earning a basic wage of just 17.50 a month.

Compensation claims

His case has the backing of the Commission for Racial Equality.

An industrial tribunal, starting in Cardiff on Monday, will be asked to decide whether race discrimination laws apply to Gurkha cases before 1997.

If it decides that they do, Hari Thapa will have taken a step forward in a legal battle which could ultimately open the way for him and many other ex-Gurkhas to make claims for compensation.

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See also:

27 Jan 00 | South Asia
Recruiting for the Gurkha regiment
24 Dec 99 | UK
Blair praises Gurkhas
28 Oct 99 | Europe
Benefit boost for Gurkha widows
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