London, Apr.25 (ANI): Britain's Gurkha soldiers, who for generations, have been known for their courage and sacrifice, have reacted angrily to new laws unfurled by Immigration Minister Phil Woolas that, according to government estimates, only about 4,300 more Gurkhas out of 36,000 will be allowed to move to the UK.
The Gurkha campaigners argue that the rules may in reality benefit only 100 men.ccording to The Independent, the severe restriction in the numbers flies in the face of a court judgment favouring the resettlement of Gurkhas in Britain.
David Enright, a solicitor representing some of the old soldiers in their court battle, said: "They have set criteria that are unattainable. They require a Gurkha to serve for 20 years, but a rifleman is permitted to serve for only around 15 years. It's a sham and an absolute disgrace. It's actually far more restrictive than the old policy."
Ragprasad Purja, 43, left the Army after the 1997 date and thus has the right to live in Britain. He served 17 years - more than the average length of service - and said the 20 years ruling was deliberately setting the bar too high.
"It is the saddest day for the Gurkhas. I cannot believe this Government made such a decision. I was proud of my service but now I am sad. It's not justice," he said.
Martin Howe, the solicitor who represented the Gurkhas in that case, said yesterday: "This is nothing less than an act of treachery. It has scant regard to the High Court judgment and scant regard to the wishes of the people up and down the length and breath of this country. We have a so called Labour Government prepared to give # 200bn to the bankers but not a penny to the Gurkhas."
The actress Joanna Lumley, a long-time supporter of the Gurkhas, said: "I am ashamed of my Government."
Woolas's new rule will allow about 100 Nepalis, mostly officers, who served longer terms than riflemen, into the country. Other criteria, such as being mentioned in dispatches, the awarding of a Ministry of Defence disability pension, or a close family member in this country would make up the rest who qualify.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, insisted the new rules were entirely fair, saying: "Anybody who has done 20 years service before 1997 is going to benefit from this decision. They can make the choice if they want to come to Britain. There used to be a bar at 1997 but we have moved that right back to make it possible for people to live in this country."
But the shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green, said: "The Government is trying to evade the effects of a very clear court judgment. This is an insult to the Gurkhas. We have said all along the Government should not try to challenge the court." (ANI)