Gurkhas move UK court

London, August 2:

A group of Gurkhas fighting for the right of some 2,000 Nepali veterans to settle in Britain moved the court here yesterday.

As many as 20 of them, many wearing military regalia, attended a hearing of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal in a test case for Gurkhas who have fought alongside British soldiers.

Under the rules, almost all the serving Gurkhas have the right to settle in Britain after completing their service.

But those who retired before 1997 have to rely on the discretion of British immigration officials, with the result that request of some 400 was rejected because they did not have “strong ties” with Britain.

Lawyer David Enright, representing 44 of them, argued in the court that someone who is prepared to die in battle for Britain should have the right to settle in the country.

He said Britain should take into account the war wounds suffered by Gurkhas, decorations when in battle, sworn allegiance to the Crown for decades, battle experience and the fact that the Gurkhas paid income tax and guarded the Queen.

“You cannot find a stronger way to link Gurkhas with the UK. All these are strong ties with the UK and should be considered in the particular circumstances of the Gurkhas who have rendered such sterling service for over 200 years.”

Around 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in the World Wars I and II; some 43,000 were killed or wounded. Currently, some 3,500 Gurkhas are serving in the British army.