Ex-Gurkhas protest Maoists’ foreign recruitment ban

Kathmandu, December 25:

Around 200 ex-Gurkha soldiers and their families rallied here today in protest against the Maoist-led government’s plan to stop the recruitment of Gurkha soldiers into the British and Indian armies, eyewitnesses said.

Protesters carrying placards that read “Gurkha recruitment must continue” and “Gurkha recruitment not shameful, it is an honour,” marched through the streets this afternoon demanding the government revokes its policy on stopping foreign recruitment.

The Maoists have threatened to end what they see as the humiliating recruitment of young Nepali men into the British and Indian armed forces. The ultra leftists say prospective Gurkha fighters will be given opportunities at home. “We are protesting against the Maoists to pressurise them to immediately scrap their plans to stop recruitment of Gurkha soldiers in foreign countries,” Dhan Bahadur Maskey Rana, a former Gurkha soldier who served in the Indian Army, told AFP at the rally.

“There are no employment opportunities here (in Nepal) and the Maoists are trying to snatch away our source of employment,” said Rana.

“I don’t know why Maoists are after recruitment of Gurkha soldiers when hundreds of youth go for jobs abroad,” said Leela Rana, another protester.

“It’s a prestigious job and has made the country proud,” she said.

Famed for their loyalty, discipline and courage in battle, Nepali Gurkhas have been recruited into the British and Indian army for centuries.

The British Army currently has around 3,400 Gurkhas serving in countries including Iraq and Afghanisthan, while the Indian Army also has some 40,000 in its ranks.