Ayo Gurkhali! Campaigners celebrate Gurkha victory

April 30th, 2009 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 30 (IANS) Gurkha ex-servicemen seeking to settle down in Britain after serving in the British Army Thursday celebrated the defeat of government attempts to curtail their residency rights.
Some 27 rebel MPs from the ruling Labour party joined opposition ranks to vote for a motion calling upon the government to give all Gurkhas who have served in the British armed forces equal rights to settle in Britain.

Campaigner and India-born actress Joanna Lumley, whose father served in a Gurkha regiment, said: “I can’t tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride - pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our Parliament. We can change things.”

“This government has now lost its moral authority,” said opposition Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who moved the motion.

The government last week said Gurkhas who retired after 1997 and want to live in Britain must prove they have close family in Britain, have served at least 20 years, been wounded in battle or won gallantry medals.

The conditions outraged campaigners and MPs, who said Gurkhas deserve an unconditional right of residency as they have fought for Britain for 200 years and up to 50,000 have been killed defending British interests.

The pro-Labour Guardian newspaper described the government’s 21-vote defeat as “extraordinary and genuinely unprecedented.”

“No government has ever lost on an opposition day motion,” it said.

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