Maoists to end Gurkhas serving in British Army

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Kathmandu, May 29: The Maoists, who won a surprise election last month after a decade of civil war, are determined to see an end to the 200-year old tradition of Gurkhas fighting alongside the British Army. Nepal's Communist rulers said on Wednesday that they are keen to stop the enrolling and insisted that the practice is humiliating and mercenary.

"Other job opportunities will be created in the poverty-stricken country and we intend to close British Army recruitment centres," the Maoists said. They have already vowed to abolish the Himalayan kingdom's 239-year-old Monarchy to ensure Nepal's entry as the newest republic of the world. The Maoists' deputy leader, Baburam Bhattarai said: "The obnoxious practice of citizens joining foreign armies as mercenaries will be stopped."

But politicians and former soldiers in Britain have opposed the move. Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP of United Kingdom said she was "saddened" that the Maoist Assembly could even entertain the idea. "The Gurkhas have served in the British Army for over half a century and alongside us for many years before that. "They do a tremendous job and their right to enrol in the British Army must be allowed to continue," the Daily Exdpress quoted Widdecombe, as saying.

Bidhur Pakhrin, 43, vice chairman of the British Gurkha Welfare Society and a veteran himself, feared for the future of the regiment: "It will be a very sad day if they carry through with their threat." He added: "If young men want to earn a decent and hard-working living to provide for their families then that should be respected."

The Ministry of Defence said: "We have no indication that the recruitment of Gurkhas would be affected by a change of government in Nepal."


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