Kathmandu, June 12
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has proposed that the Nepal-India-UK tripartite agreement on Gurkha recruitment inked in 1947 be revised and a new agreement be signed between Nepal and the United Kingdom.
The pact permits the governments of the United Kingdom and India to recruit Nepali citizens in their armies.
Oli put forth the proposal during his talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May held yesterday at her office at 10 Downing Street in London, according to Oli’s Press Adviser Kundan Aryal.
“During the talks, Oli said the TPA had become obsolete and that a new agreement between Nepal and the UK should be signed encompassing recruitment, retirement and post-retirement situation of Gurkhas,” Aryal told THT over phone from London.
Aryal is part of Oli’s delegation in his three-country Europe visit that started on June 8. Oli and his delegation reached London from Geneva on June 10 and left for France today.
May has already resigned from her post and is presently a caretaker prime minister. “May assured PM Oli that she would convey his proposal to her successor,” said Aryal.
Oli’s proposal, first of its kind from any of the three parties in the agreement, comes at a time when former British Gurkhas have been staging protests in both Nepal and the UK demanding pay, pension and other facilities equal to those paid to British nationals.
The former Gurkhas have demanded that besides providing equal pension, the British government should compensate the entire amount that former and serving Gurkhas did not receive over the years due to discrimination against them in terms of pay, pension and other facilities.
The British government started providing equal pay and pension to Gurkhas in 2007. Since Gurkhas retire after 15 years of service, those who were recruited after 1993 retired after 2007, and became eligible for equal pension. But they were deprived of equal pay and facilities for their service period before 2007.
Moreover, those recruited from 1975 to 1993 retired before 2007 and were deprived of equal pay, pension and facilities; those who served the British Army from 1947 to 1975 when there was no provision for pension were not provided equal pay and facilities.
The Gurkhas say discrimination began after the adoption of ‘Brigade of Gurkhas Standing Instruction’ in 1949 that provisioned disparity in pay, pension and other facilities. They say the standing instructions were against the TPA of 1947 that states Gurkhas will be treated on the same footing as the other units in the parent army.
Former Gurkhas cautiously welcomed Oli’s proposal for the revision of the tripartite agreement. They, however, said they would continue their agitation unless the government made concrete efforts towards addressing their demands by forming a high-level dialogue team in line with the ‘Report of The Technical Committee on Gurkha Veterans’.
The tripartite committee’s report, which has documented discrimination faced by British Gurkhas over the years, was submitted to both the governments on 22 March 2018.
The Parliamentary International Relations Committee in March directed the government to form a high-level talks team to hold dialogue with the British government in line with the report.
“Until the Nepal government, keeping us in the loop, formally writes to the British government seeking the formation of the high-level talks team, our struggle will continue,” Krishna Bahadur Rai, coordinator of Gurkha Satyagraha United Struggle Committee, told THT over phone from London.
Former Gurkhas have served a July 1 ultimatum for the formation of the talks teams, threatening a decisive protest if the two governments failed to form the talks teams.
A version of this article appears in print on June 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.