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Gurkhas slashed by UK budget

The British government was accused of abandoning loyal and trusted Gurkha soldiers to fend for themselves after the ministry of defence said they will among the first to be hit by sweeping public sector cuts.

world Updated: Apr 06, 2011 02:07 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

The British government was accused of abandoning loyal and trusted Gurkha soldiers to fend for themselves after the ministry of defence said they will among the first to be hit by sweeping public sector cuts.

About 150 jobs will be cut from the 3,500-strong Brigade of Gurkhas, who are to be made jobless in the first tranche of cuts in the military. More than 10,000 military personnel could lose their jobs over the next four years as the British governments tries to plug a massive deficit in its public finances.

Brigadier Richard Nugee, the army’s head of personnel, said there was a surplus of Gurkhas as recent changes in the terms of service meant they could now serve for 22 years rather than the previous 15 years.

Peter Carroll, who campaigned for granting Gurkhas the same rights as other British soldiers, said, “My main concern is that they want to make cuts to the Gurkhas which unlike other elements of the armed forces has no military or regimental association to look after their rights and welfare.”

The fate of the Nepali Gurkhas became an uncomfortable political issue for the previous government, with campaigners accusing Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown of being mean-minded to the fighters, whose bravery and loyalty is legendary. However, when finally they were granted equal settlement rights and salaries after a government climbdown in 2009, many Gurkha veterans and their families landed in Britain with little money or social protection.