Speaking to LBC news former Gurkha Gyanraj Rai, 63, who is on his fifth day of hunger strike with two other Gurkhas outside Downing Street explained how his Army pension was “less than a service dog”. In a shocking admission, Mr Rai revealed how he was paid a “£47 pension” compared to the “£800” of his British counterpart which meant “thousands” of veterans have died “almost of malnutrition”. He added how over a period of “30 years” despite all the help, the situation has not changed and that the hunger strike is “the last resort” to get equal pensions for Gurkhas who fought for Britain and retired prior to 1997 as they are not eligible for a full UK Armed Forces pension.
Mr Rai said: “Britain is not only bullying and abusing us, they are abusing a sovereign country that’s served this nation for the last 200 years.”
Mr Rai explained how over the years “whole Nepalese villages have been emptied” in the service of Great Britain but the Gurkhas still receive a pittance pension.
He explained how over the years the low pensions for brave Gurkhas have been so damaging that families are “starving” back in Nepal.
The Gurkha said that the situation has got so bad for families that “thousands of dependent children” who are not educated are working “dirty, difficult, dangerous” jobs in Saudi Arabia.
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The veteran said: “Many of their parents do not have a pension or they have very minimum.
And in a shocking moment, the former Gurkha revealed: “I was a Warrant Officer class, my counterpart, the same ranking, he used to get £800 pension.
“When I was retired in 1995, would you like to know how much [I got]? Only £47! That is the only pension.”
Mr Rai stressed: “He took over £61,000 retirement grant. Me? Hardly £3,000 to £4,000!
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A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said on Monday: “We greatly value the huge contribution Gurkhas make to the British Army and ensure they are supported with a generous pension and medical care during retirement in Nepal.
“We are committed to ensuring the Gurkha Pension Scheme is sustainable and fair alongside other UK public sector pensions.”
The Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) was based on Indian Army rates for those with at least 15 years’ service but Gurkhas who retired before 1997 receive a fraction of the pension the rest of the British Army receives.
More than 200,000 Gurkhas fought in the two world wars, and in the past 50 years they have served in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2009, all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in the UK, following a high-profile campaign led by actress Joanna Lumley, whose father served with the 6th Gurkha Rifles.