Nepal seeks review of 1947 deal with Britain on Gurkha soldiers

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Kathmandu: Nepal has officially proposed a review of the 1947 agreement among Nepal, India and Britain over the recruitment and deployment of Gurkha soldiers and their perks and facilities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 12 sent a letter to London, seeking a review of the tripartite agreement, reported The Kathmandu Post.

Nepal’s official request for a review comes months after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli first raised the issue during his meeting in June last year with the then British Prime Minister Theresa May in London.

After the meeting between Oli and May, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali had said that Nepal had proposed a review of the agreement, to which May had responded “positively”. A joint statement issued after the meeting, however, stopped short of mentioning that Oli had raised the issue. Upon his arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, Oli himself revealed that the UK did not accept the proposal.

The recent letter to the British government is a result of continued pressure on the Nepal government by Gurkha veterans, who have served a March 15 deadline to form a joint talks team between the two nations as per the recommendations made by a joint technical team in 2018 on resolving the long-pending issue.

A senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office said that the letter was sent to the UK for their consideration as per the policy of the present government to scrap or review all discriminatory treaties and pacts signed with other countries and make them applicable to the changed context.

“We are following up on the matter in line with discussions held between the prime ministers of Nepal and Britain last year,” the official told the Post on condition of anonymity. “We are equally concerned about the grievances of Gurkha veterans.”

The tripartite pact among Nepal, India and Britain assures that all perks, remuneration, facilities and pension schemes for Nepalis serving in the British and Indian armies will be equal to those of British and Indian nationals. However, Gurkha veterans have long alleged that Britain has put in place discriminatory policies in remuneration.

After the independence of India, the recruitment of Gurkha soldiers was organised by way of the 1947 tripartite agreement among Nepal, India and Britain. The agreement also paved the way for the distribution between India and Britain of the then Gurkha brigades serving in British India. Thus, the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th Gurkha Rifles became part of the British Army after India gained Independence while the rest were retained by Independent India.

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