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Gurkha veteran on hunger strike opposite Downing Street receives hospital treatment

Written by on 18/08/2021

A Gurkha veteran on a hunger strike opposite Downing Street who is getting “weaker and weaker” has been discharged from hospital after needing treatment for heart issues.

Dhan Gurung has not eaten for 11 days as part of a protest campaigning for equal pensions for Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and are not eligible for a full UK Armed Forces pension.

The 60-year-old from Basingstoke has been protesting from his wheelchair in Whitehall and was taken to hospital just after 1.30am on Wednesday.

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Hunger-striking ex-Gurkha: ‘I don’t care if I die’

He had previously vowed to continue the hunger strike “until death” and said “we don’t care about sacrificing our life”.

Yam Gurung, 71, spokesperson for the Gurkhas, said the government “must listen” amid fears for the health and wellbeing of the protesters.

He said: “On Monday, Dhan sent an email to his family in Nepal and said ‘this will be my last email’.

“I was so worried about him I stayed with him all day. Then the next morning he said he was OK and so I went home.

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“The next thing I hear is he had been rushed to hospital. I was so frightened.

“He was taken to hospital because his heart is so weak and he is taking medicine but is not eating anything, he’s just having water. He’s getting weaker and weaker.

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‘Act soon or there won’t be any of us left’

“He didn’t want to go to hospital – he said ‘I will die here’. But we convinced him to go. He told me quietly that his heart can stop any time, so we have got monitors and a medic keeping an eye on his health.”

Mr Gurung added: “It wasn’t a heart attack, he just has minor problems with his heart. They’re (all the Gurkhas) getting weaker.

“The government must listen. We have done so much. Why are they treating us like illegitimate children? We have done so much for them.

“We don’t want anybody to die here. Not a single one. We are human beings. I want to ask Boris Johnson, what is your interpretation of human rights? Tell the world. Tell the Gurkhas.”

The prime minister was seen leaving Downing Street and heading to Parliament on Wednesday morning – sparking shouts from protesters as he was driven past.

Hundreds of Gurkhas later marched past Parliament.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last week told Sky News he is “happy to meet with any Gurkha” as the former soldiers continued their hunger strike.

Around 200,000 Gurkhas fought in both world wars, also serving in places such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who served from 1948 to 2007 were members of the Gurkha Pension Scheme until the Labour government of the time eliminated the differences between Gurkhas’ terms and conditions of service and those of their British counterparts.

Serving Gurkhas, and those with service on or after 1 July 1997, could then opt to transfer into the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

It was brought in after a change in immigration rules in 2007, backdated to July 1997, meant that more retired Gurkhas were likely to settle in the UK on discharge.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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