Britain accused of betraying its Gurkha soldiers

Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:35am EDT
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By Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Campaigners for former Gurkha soldiers seeking to retire in Britain have accused the government of treachery after the publication of immigration guidelines they said would bar most of them from settling.

The Home Office said on Friday new rules would give around 4,000 former members of the Nepalese unit that has fought for Britain since 1815 the right to settle, along with 6,000 dependents.

But campaigners said restrictions imposed by the government meant fewer than 100 Gurkhas would qualify.

"This is nothing less than an act of treachery and betrayal," said solicitor Martin Howe of the Gurkha Justice Campaign.

David Enright, a solicitor representing the Gurkhas, said "this government ... should hang their head in shame so low that their forehead should touch their boots."

The settlement issue for the hardy soldiers, who still go into battle with their famous curved Kukri knives, has been raging for years.

The Gurkhas say that if they were good enough to fight for Britain, they are good enough to be allowed to stay.

The government however fears some 100,000 former soldiers and their families would apply to settle in Britain if they removed all restrictions and that thousands of other colonial UK soldiers would soon join the queue of those applying to settle.   Continued...