Gurkha dreams of a new life in the UK

Gyanendra Rai lives in Katmandhu, where he proudly displays a Union Flag and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall.

As a Gurkha corporal in the British Army, he saw active service during the Falklands War where he was injured by an Argentinian shell which left a finger-sized lump of shrapnel embedded in his back. It's been removed, but he still has it and looked very proud on the news last night, showing it off to the camera, and it was obvious that he feels similarly proud to have served our country. He's a very proud man, and he has every right to be.

"I want to go to the UK first of all for treatment as I am in pain," he says. "The wound has healed but I have problems - I cannot walk far and have some paralysis in my leg. When I go to hospital in Nepal, I just get pain killers. All they give me is pain killers. The first time I applied to go to the UK they refused, and now a second time again they have refused. So I am very, very sad."

Rai is just one of many - the desperately poverty-stricken Himalyan nation of Nepal has been providing the British Army with soldiers for 150 years. Ask any old soldier what they think of the Gurkhas and they'll all tell you the incredible respect they have for them - I have a friend who served in both the Royal Marines and the SAS who claims they were the bravest people he ever met. They have won an incredible 26 Victoria Crosses, 2 George Crosses (for bravery in non-combat situations) and 3 Param Vir Chakras, a VC equivalent awarded by India. Yet those who joined the regiment prior to 01.06.1997 receive a smaller pension than a British soldier. Wives and children of Gurkhas killed while defending Britain and British interests do not automatically have the right to stay here.

Finally, it looks as though they might soon be able to live in the country for which they are willing to risk their lives, after MPs voted 267 to 246 for them to be granted the right to do so.

The 246 who voted against should feel ashamed - how many of them would sign up to fight for Nepal? Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has stated his belief that the Government's position is shameful, and he is quite right - the Gurkhas have more right to live in the United Kingdom than most of us do.

No comments:

Post a Comment