Is This Right?
I’m going slightly off-topic here… but I think this is important.
On 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.”
This 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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