Gurkha veterans start relay hunger strike in London

People from Gurkha community stage a protest in London. (File photo)

NL Today

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Kathmandu: In what appears to be sheer ignorance to address their demands, ex-Gurkhas have resorted to launching a relay hunger strike in the United Kingdom to put pressure to address their demands. The British Gurkha Satyagraha United Struggle Committee started a relay hunger strike before the office of the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street from 1 pm on Wednesday (local time).

Campaigner Gyan Raj Rai shared that they were forced to stage a hunger strike when their demands were not heeded despite several attempts from their end.

Rai further informed that the relay hunger strike would continue for 13 consecutive days since Wednesday. The hunger strike will be undertaken on a rotation basis with one campaigner in the strike each day, he further clarified.

Struggle Committee’s member Krishna Bahadur Rai warned to launch fast-unto-death if the British Government did not make any effort to initiate dialogue within 13 days.

It may be noted that several organizations concerning the demands of Gurkhas, including NRNA-UK, had sent a letter in writing to both UK and Nepal governments last month calling for their efforts to address the issue.

The letter was dispatched urging the governments to initiate dialogue on the demands of ex-Gurkhas, including pension.

However, the GAESO has not lent its support to the agitation launched by the Gurkhas struggle committee putting forth 12-charter demands.

Earlier the committee had postponed its hunger strike scheduled to be staged in London until July 21.

In a statement, the committee had said that the decision was taken following an assurance from the Nepal government mentioning that it will take a firm step to start a direct table talk with the British government within two weeks to resolve the outstanding Gurkha issues.

Rai had warned that they will not postpone the strike again if both sides fail to take an action timely. Gurkha veterans are not fighting for something we did not earn or deserve. We just want what we are denied by the British government, he added. “Gurkha veterans are not fighting for something we did not earn or deserve. We just want what we are denied by the British government.”

Gurkha veterans have been protesting putting forth different demands including an equal pension on a par with their British counterparts. Earlier on June 16, a protest rally was staged in London to press the British government to address demands.

The committee had appealed to the British people to encourage their government to take the Gurkha issues extremely seriously and hold a government-to-government meeting immediately.

Earlier, the British Ministry of Defense had said that the Nepal government can communicate with the British government to address the grievances of Gurkha veterans.

The UK Ambassador in Nepal is in contact with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on a regular basis and should the Nepal government wish to communicate on the matter of Gurkha veteran grievances, they may do so, the Ministry had said in a formal response to a joint letter sent by six Gurkha organizations.