29 July 2007

More woes for Tul Bahadur Pun

Tul bahadur Pun is a Gurkha war, one of a handful of living recipients of the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for valour. Two months ago there was a furore the refusal to grant him a visa to settle in the UK. Following a huge outcry the decision was subsequently overturned and he was granted residence in the UK (see my earlier posts here and here. According to today’s Observer he may may be forced to leave Britain because he cannot survive on his meagre army pension, despite recently winning a legal battle for the right to stay.

Now he fears he will be forced to return to Nepal because he and his family are struggling on his annual army pension of £1,584. His lawyer believes he will certainly die if forced to return to Nepal because of the standard of Nepalese medical care. Pun suffered a mild stroke last Sunday and is recovering in hospital. Pun was awarded the VC after single-handedly storming Japanese machine-gun positions during the Second World War. Despite his valour, he was barred from Britain because officials concluded that he did not have 'strong ties with the UK'. The elderly Gurkha has heart problems, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure and requires daily medication which is not always available in Nepal.

Gordon Brown was made aware of Pun's plight when they met three weeks ago. The Gurkha told him he was struggling to support his wife and son at their home in Hounslow, west London. Pun’s lawyer, Martin Howe, has contacted Treasury solicitors, but no increase has been forthcoming. Pun receives £132 a month, around a quarter of the average British army pension. In addition, he receives £1,500 a year as a Victoria Cross winner. Howe said: 'Whether he can stay here depends on financial considerations and, sadly, after just arriving he might be forced to leave. Gurkhas are living on pensions paid on the basis they are in the 12th-poorest country, Nepal, while the reality is Pun is living in the fourth-richest economy.

His plight coincides this week with the beginning of the first of 2,000 cases of former Gurkhas, many of them also decorated and conflict veterans, appealing against the government's decision to prevent them from living in Britain. Among the cases to be heard this week is that of Corporal Gyanendra Rai, a decorated Falklands hero who suffered terrible injuries at Bluff Cove. Immigration officials fear the 51-year-old will try to stay here if he is granted a visitor's visa for specialised NHS treatment. The ex-machine gunner and father-of-five is in constant pain after his back was hit by shrapnel. Lance-Corporal Birendra Man Shrestha served in the 1991 Gulf War and was decorated three times for bravery.

'These people spilt their blood and guts for Britain,' added Howe. 'They were willing to die for us, but they are now not good enough for us to offer them a place to live.' Most Gurkha visa applicants are refused, despite paying £500 in Nepal to apply. Howe cited one case involving the winner of a Military Cross who was paralysed serving in the armed forces: 'He has not even applied for a visa to help his treatment because he cannot afford it.'

What can you say? I say let them come.


beakerkin said...


There has been a similar discussion on my blog. Citizenship is something I feel passionate about,

Currently the US military has many men who are noncitizens fighting in the miliatary, They get expedited citizenship in two years instead of five, I wish the law woild reduce their waiting time for family members.

The issues has been discussed a few times. I do not see this cheapening citizenship. However is this an American version of the French foreign legion. If you are from a messed up violent country life itself is risky

jams o donnell said...

The situation is different for gurkhas serving later but it was a disgrace that ealier veterans were trated so shoddily.

Even if the country of origin is grim, but if they join up they should never be considered second class citizens.

sonia said...

This is sad.

During the British defeats in World War II in Asia (Fall of Singapore, etc.), many Asian soldiers in the British Army defected and joined the Japanese. But not the Gurkhas, who all remained loyal to British Crown and shared the misery of POW's camps...

Gurkhas were considered the most loyal soldiers in the world...

jams o donnell said...

The Gurkhas have been loyal and tenacious fighters. That reminds me that I have to do a post on the Indian unit in teh German Army (Wehrmacht then SS) which was set up by Chandra Bose

Anonymous said...

The British Embassy officials at Kathmandu must be sacked and be disqualified for government service for lifelong for the crime they did against Tul Bahadur Pun. They need to sent to Iraq to serve if they want a job.