VICTORY FOR GURKHAS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
If you were an avid comic reader in your school days, when Kingsway, PZ and such other outlets provided the reasons for school kids to wander through these stores under the watchful eyes of staff, then you would be bound to have seen something about the gallantry of a certain group of Nepalese no-nonsense fighters known as the Gurkhas. And one would have come across the favourite side arms or dare we say side weapon of the Gurkhas, the ubiquitous and dare we add indispensable kukri.
Many who belonged to that golden era would be surprised to learn that these fighters were not just the imagination of comic strip writers but that they actually served and continue to serve in the British army still displaying their unbridled loyalty to Queen and country. And that they are still alive and kicking taking and active part in the various missions of the UK Armed Forces.
And so it was with quite a bit of interest, if not alarm when the Sierra Herald read about and saw TV pictures of former serving Gurkhas being denied their right to UK citizenship by some edict put in place by Whitehall mandarins some of whom have never come to grips or simply fail to understand the contribution of these brave people in carrying high the flag of Her Majesty's government.
These are a band of brave and selfless fighters who had been a part of the British army for generations and who have laid down their lives, lost limbs and possessions in their avowed devotion to Her Majesty's forces in all spheres of operations.
Indeed the MoD has noted on its website dedicated to the Royal Gurkha Rifles that -
And so to be denied the right of residence and by extension the right to UK citizenship does not only go against the grain of British tradition of respect for the brave and appreciation for kindness, but is a gross display that no true Brit would like to be linked with.
These are fighters who served, fighters who displayed a loyalty to the British Crown that is only matched by the UK's elite forces. These are a band of fighters who are not in the UK to milk charities in the name of "persecuted journalists", but these are men of courage, men of valour who think nothing of their safety when duty calls. These are men who deserve the respect of the UK, the appreciation of the UK and above all the expression in real terms of the gratefulness of the UK public.
Today's victory in what is clearly a landmark test case clearly highlights the flaws in what can only be seen as arbitrary rules and regulations that tend to pander to the whims and caprices of anti-immigration and outright racist hardliners in government and the opposition parties.
And the source of today's victory? Why these brave and loyal men were challenging immigration rules which stated that all Gurkhas who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay. Can you beat that? And how did those Whitehall mandarins decide on such a year beats the imagination as it would seem blood shed for the Crown before 1997 is different from any other. What nonsense!!!!
Lawyer Martin Howe said: "Today we have seen a tremendous and historic victory for the gallant Gurkha veterans of Nepal. "This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty's armed forces. "It is a victory for common sense; a victory for fairness; and a victory for the British sense of what is right."
It is heartening to note that the lot of the Gurkha has not been that gloomy as indeed certain provisions have been made that recognises their contribution to British bravery and fortitude. This, after pressure on the government that there ought to be parity in pay and service conditions for soldiers serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.
The MoD, the UK Ministry of Defence has noted on its website this -
The Sierra Herald is further pleased with statements by the Home Office that because of today's ruling, they were now going to review all such cases involving the Gurkhas.
There were emotional scenes as lawyers for the Gurkhas, including Edward Fitzgerald QC, were garlanded with silk scarves against a background of three cheers from a throng of supporters and the skirl of pipe music. Miss Lumley said: "I am so proud of British justice and so proud of the Gurkhas. "At last we can begin to put this great wrong right."
The judge in the case, Mr Justice Blake, said in his ruling that Mr Fitzgerald had made "powerful submissions, powerfully advanced" for the Gurkhas. He said Government immigration policy in this case "irrationally excluded material and potentially decisive considerations" or "was so ambiguous" as to mislead applicants, entry clearance officers (ECOs) and immigration judges alike.
Instructions given by the Home Office to ECOs are unlawful and need urgent revisiting, he said.
The judge quoted from the military covenant that soldiers are expected to make personal sacrifices and put the needs of the nation above their own and in return should always expect fair treatment and be valued and respected.
The judge concluded: "Rewarding long and distinguished service by the grant of residence in the country for which the service was performed would, in my judgment, be a vindication and an enhancement of this covenant."