Memorandum submitted by the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (9 October 2001)
We are glad to know from your email letter that the MoD Defence Committee is reviewing the entire pay scheme of the retired forces of the British Army. We appreciate the pension review scheme of the Defence Committee. We also thank the Committee for asking GAESO to send a memorandum expressing our views with regard to the pension and other post-retirement benefits of the British Gurkha soldiers of Nepal.
As you know, we the British Gurkhas are an integral part of the British Army. Like our British counterparts, we have taken the same oaths under the British flag and served the British Empire as loyal military servants of the British Army for about 200 years. But the British government has not yet recognized our services on an equal footing. Despite our invaluable services to the British Empire, we the retired British Gurkha soldiers receive unequal treatment by the British government in terms of pensions and other post-retirement benefits. We are paid much less in pensions than our British counterparts. Many war veterans and widows of the British Gurkha soldiers, who died in active combat during various wars, have not yet been compensated in any way. The British government has not paid any compensation to the British Gurkha soldiers who served them so faithfully in the war and became Japanese and German prisoners of war in the course of their service to the British. The British also made various excuses and compelled thousands of British Gurkhas to take early retirement without compensation or with inadequate compensation. In the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, for example, more than 10,000 British Gurkha soldiers were retrenched under a redundancy scheme. While ample compensation was paid to the British nationals who were retired on the same scheme, the British Gurkhas were sent back to their home country Nepal with only a one off payment of GBP 150 at once and for good, and some did not even receive this. We feel it a grave discrimination. We tried to bring it to the notice of both the Nepal and British governments several times through memorandums and public appeals. But no government has ever offered any explanation or justification for the discrepant treatment. The government's failure to do so necessitated the retired British Gurkha soldiers to form an association called Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organization (GAESO) and to raise our collective voice in a more organized way against British discrimination. For the last six years we have been raising our voices for equal (not equitable) treatment. Our humble demands with the British government are:
1. Gurkha pensions equal to those of British soldiers of the same rank and same job.
2. Pensions for those made "redundant" during reductions of army and sent home pensionless.
3. Pensions and post-retirement benefits to war veterans and widows of Gurkha soldiers who died in active combat during various wars.
4. Equal compensation to the Gurkha soldiers who were made Japanese prisoners of war in the course of their service to the British.
We are hopeful that the Defence Committee will take our case seriously. By this memorandum letter, we also request the Committee to try and establish what justification (if any) is claimed by the MoD so that the Committee can evaluate the claimed justification. If the committee needs further information with regard to our grievances/demands, we would be most happy to provide them without reservation.
Thanking you a lot for your kind cooperation and consideration.