The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gorkhas in bias battle

Darjeeling, March 23: The Gorkhas might have served the Union Jack for over two centuries but this has not put an end to discrimination against them.

The England-based British Gurkha Welfare Society, which has long been campaigning for equality in pay and pension between the British and Gorkhas serving in the same army, has decided to settle the issue through discussions across the table.

While British citizens are eligible for pension after serving in the army for only two years, Gorkhas have to serve for at least 15 years to receive the post-retirement benefit, said Chandra Luksom, an executive member of the society. Moreover, while British personnel, who complete 22 years in service, receive an annual pension of around ' 6,800, the Gorkhas receive only ' 984, he added.

Members of the society are currently visiting different parts of Nepal and India to meet Gorkha ex-servicemen to work out a strategy to end this discrimination. The team, headed by the society's chairman, Maj. (retd) Tikendra Dewan, wants to build up a consensus on the demand for the revision of pay and pensions. The team arrived here today and will leave by tomorrow.

'We are also discriminated against in other ways ' a Gorkha receives only about one-third of the salary given to a British citizen. Moreover, the British get overseas allowances, which is not extended to the Gorkhas,' said Dewan.

The sacrifice of the Gorkhas have become legendary and it is often said that if a minute's silence were to be observed for every Gorkha casualty during World War II, a person would have to remain silent for two days. The British government recruits 250 men from Nepal annually.

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