British Gurkha recruitment mocks sovereignty of Nepal

The trend of Nepali citizens getting recruited into the armies of foreign countries like India, the UK, Brunei and Singapore has been going on for a long. In the case of the UK in particular, the youths of Nepali are being used as pawns by this country to fulfil its self-serving strategic interests.  This started following the Sugauli Treaty of 1815 between Nepal and the then government of the East India Company which also resulted in the loss of almost one-third of the territory of the former.

In 1914 A.D., the UK inducted around 200 thousand Nepali youths in its armed troops as a preparation for the First World War. According to various study reports, the very number accounted for almost 20 per cent of the then-hill population of Nepal.  The Gurkha Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO) estimated that at least 60 thousand Nepalis lost their lives during the war.

For years, the organisation has been launching a movement against the British government. This is because the latter is not only discriminatory towards Nepali youths in terms of salary and other facilities but also overlooks the issues of their basic human rights.   In his exclusive tete-a-tete with, Padam Bahadur Gurung, president of GAESO, divulges social, political and economic aspects of Gurkha recruitment in the British Army. Excerpts:

Over the last few decades, there have been intense discussions and debates about the issues related to the ex-Gurkha army. As the president of GAESO, how do you view this?

There has been brazen discrimination against Nepali youths in the British Army since the start of the recruitment of Nepali youths in the British Army ( way back in 1815 A.D). They are commanded to fight in the frontline to protect the crown and the people of Britain.

Nevertheless, they are suffering utter discrimination at the hands of the British government.  Not only level of their salary and other facilities is much lower, but their human rights are also downplayed.     It not only ridicules the dignity of Nepali youths but also undermines the national pride of Nepal.  So, we have been engaged in a struggle to stop this once and for all.

Do you think a rich nation like the UK is inclined to treat the people of a poor nation like Nepal as nothing more than slaves?

Yes, it seems so. During the First and Second World Wars, the British government sent its agents to Nepal to pick up Nepali people aged from 14 to 39 to induct into its armed troops.

These people did not have any war-related knowledge or skills.  Even so, they were blatantly used for the wars. While using them,  a separate illicit Gukha Brigade was formed rather than incorporating them into the British Army. They were forced to engage in the wars like slaves without getting a  single penny.

In this sense, the British government committed the crime of human trafficking in the name of recruiting British Gurkha.

Should this issue of human trafficking be raised by Nepal in an international forum like the United Nations (UN)?

A powerful country like the UK enjoys veto power in the UN. That is why, it may be pointless to do this. The more so if one is to consider a diabolical plan the UK, supported by other Western countries, to violently destabilise Nepal to fulfil its hegemonic interest.

Under the plan, they will make the  Himalayan nation to continue provide its people to the armies of countries like Britain and India.  This creates a possibility of this nation also engaging in devastating conflict with any other third nation launching a war against any of the said two nations   Let’s take India and China, for instance. The two neighbouring countries, which had already fought a war in 1962, are likely to again do the same anytime in the future. If this happens, the northern neighbour is almost sure to attract Nepal, thus turning it into another Ukraine.

The violent chaos here in the country is exactly what the Western power centres need to freely play the card of “Free Tibet” to weaken China. Realizing this fact, the Nepali authorities must abolish the practice of sending its citizens to foreign troops which also violates the foreign policy of non-interference.

What do you think is a major hurdle in putting an end to the Gurkha recruitment?

The only legal basis on which the recruitment is taking place is the tripartite agreement between Nepal, India and Britain reached in 1947. Since the very contract is discriminatory, unequal, and not in the interest of the Nepali people, we have long engaged in a legal battle to annul it.   The Supreme Court (SC) issuing a mandamus in the name of the government to review the treaty a year back is one positive outcome of the battle. The Nepali political leadership must be serious enough to put an end to the Gurkha recruitment forever.

Our organisation strongly believes that the recruitment not only mocks the sovereign status of Nepal but also amounts to a war crime.