Chairman of the BGWS, Major Retd. Tikendra Dal Dewan (2nd from right), addressing the press meet while other office-bearers look on (Photo courtesy: BGWS)
Mr Dewan said a meeting between the BGWS office-bearers with the officials of the New Delhi-based British High Commission in Kathmandu last week has been instrumental in streamlining Gurkha veteransâ€™ settlement application for residency in the UK.
During the meeting, the BGWS urged British authorities to facilitate and fast-track visa applications of Gurkha veterans, who retired before 1997, including their children above 18 years of age and widows of Gurkha veterans. The BGWS has been forwarding ten applications of Gurkha veterans on an average per day to the High Commission.
â€śBGWS is committed and stands ready to facilitate settlement of Gurkha veterans in the UK in the aftermath of the May 21 announcement of the British government,â€ť said chairman Dewan, adding â€śWe will continue our dialogue with the central and local British authorities as well as British parliamentarians to ensure that Gurkha veterans are not stranded when they arrive in the UK.â€ť
The BGWS said it is also planning to conduct a joint mission with the Rushmoor Borough Council and local authorities of UK to visit Nepal in October this year to apprise former Gurkha veterans and their families about various procedures related to settlement and life in the UK.
On May 21, 2009, the British government announced that it will provide right to settlement in UK to all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four yearsâ€™ service. The British governmentâ€™s decision came in the wake of a long-running campaign supported by a large number of British parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, British media and importantly Joanna Lumley, a noted British celebrity. This included all the Gurkha organisations and BGWS --the first UK established organisation that initiated and were successful in claiming settlement for Gurkhas through their historic march on the streets of Liverpool, UK, in 2004.
â€śWhile some Gurkha organisations have announced that the Gurkha Justice Campaign has now come to an end as the British government has agreed to provide settlement rights to all ex-Gurkhas, we have been continuing the campaign since it will remain incomplete unless the provision of equal pension and benefits to all British Gurkha soldiers and officers is ensured,â€ť said Chhatra Rai, General Secretary of BGWS.
While in Kathmandu, the BGWS delegation called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subash Nemwang, chairman of the CPN (UML) Jhal Nath Khanal, former minister and senior Maoist leader Krishna B Mahara, among others. During the meeting, the BGWS delegation apprised Nepali leaders and authorities about the on-going campaign being launched by the BGWS and sought their moral support.
â€śWe are really encouraged from the widespread support and solidarity expressed towards the causes being championed by the BGWS and it has further energized us to continue our fight for equal right and benefits for all British Gurkhas,â€ť said Chhatra Rai, General Secretary of the BGWS.
The BGWS delegation is scheduled to return to UK later this week. nepalnews.com