Gurkhas get axe as Britain reduces troops (Lead)April 4th, 2011 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, April 4 (IANS) Hundreds of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army and fighting for equal pay, perks and pension received yet another stunning blow Monday as the British government announced a redundancy programme that will slash nearly 7,000 posts in the British Army.
The Brigade of Gurkhas, consisting of recruits from Nepal and currently including over 3,600 soldiers, will be reduced by 700, the British embassy in Kathmandu announced in a statement Monday.
The redundancy programme, which comes after a review by the British defence ministry, will begin to trim the British Army, leaving 94,350 personnel at the end of four years.
By 2015, the Brigade of Gurkhas will be cut down to 2,900 soldiers.
The axing will be effected in four phases, the first of which will be announced in September when up to 165 Gurkhas will be shown the door.
The ministry is urging the Gurkhas to accept voluntary retirement. However, it is ready to press ahead with “involuntary redundancy” if the need arises. The first ones to go will be those nearing their end of service and eligible for immediate pension.
The announcement was on the cards after a campaign by the Gurkhas, spearheaded by British actor Joanna Lumley, succeeded in forcing the British government to allow soldiers who had retired before 1997 to be allowed to resettle in Britain.
The capitulation has been a severe setback for the British treasury with healthcare and other benefit costs shooting up exponentially.
While axing the elderly soldiers, Britain, however, has decided to continue recruiting “capable young soldiers” and the embassy said the Brigade plans to enlist some 176 recruits this year.
The decision is bound to trigger protests, if not law suits by the Gurkhas, who have been waging a series of legal battles to get compensation for being taken prisoner of war, which was earlier denied to them, and the same pension as that given to Commonwealth nationals.
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- 150 Gurkhas to lose jobs under UK Strategic Defence, Security Review cuts - Apr 05, 2011
- Britain opens Nepal office to help Gurkha migration - Oct 05, 2009
- Britain says no plans to axe Gurkhas - Oct 20, 2010
- Britain's Gurkha soldiers to lose jobs - Jan 17, 2012
- Gurkha veteran warns other nations would hire brigade if UK rejects - Sep 05, 2010
- Victoria Cross winner Gorkha hero Pun who saved Lumley's father dies at 92 - Apr 22, 2011
- Lumley says Gurkhas must be allowed into Britain sans visa fees - Feb 07, 2010
- Gurkha soldier reduced to begging seek help from British actress - Jul 25, 2009
- Retired Gurkha soldiers lose court case over British army pensions - Oct 14, 2010
- Gurkha fighters launch legal battle to win equal pension rights - Oct 28, 2009
- Abandoned Gurkha veterans get first home in Nepal - Nov 17, 2010
- Brit actress Lumley hailed as 'Nepali cheli' - Jul 28, 2009
- Brit Gurkha regiment could face axe over defence spending - Sep 01, 2010
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