Victoria Cross winner returns medal to protest treatment of fellow UK Gorkhas

June 26th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 26 (ANI): A Gorkha war veteran, who won the Victoria Cross, has delivered dozens of his medals to Downing Street in protest at the treatment of his fellow soldiers.

Tul Bahadur Pun VC, 87, a Second World War hero, handed in medals including an MBE as part of a demonstration to promote the rights of more than 2,000 Gorkhas to stay in Britain.

Puns protest came only days after he himself was refused treatment for a heart condition at the NHS hospital, The Telegraph reported.

He was then told that he owed the hospital thousands of pounds in unpaid medical bills.

Pun, one of only 10 living VC holders in the UK, was close to tears after he was humiliated at a cardiology department at West Middlesex Hospital in London.

The war hero, who lives on just 135 pounds a week, was forced to leave the hospital on the anniversary of winning his VC in Burma on June 23, 1944.

After examining his passport hospital officials said he was not entitled to treatment and would have to pay back the NHS for previous medical help because he had been misleading over his immigration status.

Pun, who is blind and almost deaf, said: I could not sleep worrying about having to pay thousands of pounds for the treatment I have already had. I have not misled anyone. The British Government allows me to live here.

He was originally refused entrance to the UK by British officials in Nepal as it was claimed he did not have strong enough ties with the UK.

But in June last year the decision was overthrown by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, and he now lives in a home in Hounslow, west London.

The hospital has admitted it had made an error, apologised and promised a fresh appointment.

Pun headed the march on Downing Street calling for Gorkhas who retired before 1997 to be given the right to settle in Britain.

Current serving Gorkhas are almost automatically entitled to live in the UK after completing their Army service but those who retired before 1997 have to rely on the discretion of a British entry clearance officer. (ANI)

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