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Is This Right?

May 27, 2007

I’m going slightly off-topic here… but I think this is important.

Pun in 1953On June 23rd, 1944, Tul Bahadur Pun won a Victoria Cross while serving with the Gurkhas in Burma. As a result of his bravery, he was invited to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and was the guest of the Queen-Mother for tea. Now aged 84, he has a series of medical conditions that require better healthcare than he can expect to receive in Nepal, and so he applied to come to Britain to live. His application has been refused and the Immigration Service have said to him: “You have failed to demonstrate that you have strong ties with the UK.”

Tul Bahadur PunThis story was highlighted in This is London and has been the main topic of conversation on Steven Nolan’s late night BBC Radio 5Live show this weekend, and the public response has been unanimous in its condemnation for the refusing of Pun’s application to come here. There have been two main emotions that have come to the fore in the discussion: anger and shame.

Anger at the civil servants who appear to have no understanding of the debt we owe to the Gurkhas in general, and Pun in particular; and shame at the treatment given to such a man.

On my own, there is not a lot I can do to redress this injustice – but if enough people start writing to their MPs then maybe we can give this case the publicity it will need to help make a difference. There are also a couple of online petitions at 10 Downing Street that you might be interested in signing. One is concerned with giving the Gurkhas the same pension rights as the other members of the armed forces, and the other is asking for those who have served in the Gurkhas to be given British citizenship by right.

One of the great claims of ‘Britishness’ is our supposed sense of fairness and justice… but the more I learn about the treatment of the Gurkhas, the more I fear this claim rings somewhat hollowly…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2007 7:45 am

    Is this right? No, because racism is never right! And, in some ways, this sanitised, official form of racism is the worst of all because it implicates every one of us as citizens of the country that is perpetrating the deed. There are fewer and fewer reasons every day for being proud of being British.

    Good on you, Neil.

  2. DuncanR permalink
    May 28, 2007 8:04 am

    Howe & Co, Solicitors acting on behalf of Tul Bahadur Pun have set up a web site to support his case –

    http://www.vchero.co.uk/

    If you want to help by signing the petition to grant Gurkhas and their immediate families British Citizenship (and with it the right of residence in this country) visit –

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/gurkhas-rights/

  3. May 28, 2007 4:08 pm

    @John: I’ve been mentioning this in school today, and wonder how many others feel it is a worthwhile issue. I strongly believe this is not a party political issue… successive red and blue Governments have had the opportunity to make the necessary changes to give the Gurkhas their due. Maybe it is now timefor the people to tell them.

    @DuncanR: Thank you for the link to VCHero.co.uk. I heard the site mentioned on the radio but, as I was driving at the time, wasn’t able to make a note of it. I’ve already signed the gurkhas-rights petition!

  4. bouncy permalink
    May 31, 2007 7:05 pm

    see,the government dont like brave old men,they’d rather let afghani plane hijackers in the uk of course!!

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  1. sjhoward.co.uk » The strange case of Tul Bahadur Pun

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