Britain's greatest allies, the Gurkhas, win their right to settle in Britain

British Army Gurkhas, the world's most fearsome and fearless warriors, have won a test case at the High Court in London to be able to settle in the UK.

The British Government had shamefully said that Gurkhas who left the Army before 1997 didn't have the right to live in the UK.

But this victory by the Gurkhas will be welcomed by the British public.

British actress Joanna Lumley led the campaign. Lumley's father served alongside the Gurkhas in World War II.

The Gurkhas, brave warriors from Nepal, have been fighting in the British Army since around 1815. They have fought in the British Army in wars such as World War II, Borneo, Malaysia, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of them dream of joining the British Army at an early age and undergo a intense training programme for early childhood - so they have had years and years of training before they even join the British Army.

Nowadays, there are 3,500 Gurkhas in the British Army - though in World War II there were a whopping 112,000 of them!

The Gurkhas still carry their deadly 18-inch Kukri knives with them when they go into battle with the British Army.

In times past, it was said that once a kukri was drawn in battle, it had to "taste blood" - if not, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath.

The selection process that Gurkhas must undergo for the British Army is one of the toughest in the world.

Gurkhas win right to stay in UK

Actress Joanna Lumley was among those campaigning for the Gurkhas

A group of retired Gurkhas fighting for the right to settle in Britain have won their immigration test case at London's High Court.

They were challenging immigration rules which said that those who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay.

Prominent supporter actress Joanna Lumley said it was a "chance to right a great wrong".

The government said it would now review all Gurkhas' cases.

'Debt of honour'

British Army Gurkhas brandishing their fearsome Kukri knives

The regiment moved its main base from Hong Kong to the UK in 1997 and the government had argued that Gurkhas discharged before that date were unlikely to have strong residential ties with the UK.

That meant those who wanted to settle in the UK had to apply for British residence and could be refused and deported.

The judgement could affect some 2,000 former Gurkhas who retired before 1997.

The judge, Mr Justice Blake, said the Gurkhas' long service, conspicuous acts of bravery and loyalty to the Crown all pointed to a "moral debt of honour" and gratitude felt by British people.

He ruled that instructions given by the Home Office to immigration officials were unlawful and needed urgent revision.

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."

The five ex-Gurkhas involved in the test case were L/Cpl Gyanendra Rai, Deo Prakash Limbu, Cpl Chakra Limbu, L/Cpl Birendra Shrestha and Bhim Gurung.

Gita Mukhiya also took part on behalf her deceased husband.

Gurkhas have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years and are hand picked from a fiercely contested recruitment contest in Nepal to win the right to join.

They have seen combat all over the world, with 200,000 fighting in the two world wars.

'Wonderful vindication'

Lumley, whose father served with the Gurkhas, was one of those leading the campaign.

Outside court, she said: "This day is more important than I can tell you because it gives our country the chance to right a great wrong and to wipe out a national shame that has stained us all."

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was a "wonderful vindication" for those who had campaigned for a change in the law.

"I've always felt that if someone is prepared to die for this country, then they should have the right to live in this country," he said.

"The key thing now is to look at the ruling in detail and to make sure that the government now translates that into action and doesn't try and squirm out of it."

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in a statement that the Home Office would revise its guidance surrounding the 1997 cut-off date.

"I have always been clear that where there is a compelling case, soldiers and their families should be considered for settlement," she said. "We will honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year."

Who are the Gurkhas?

Gurkhas are part of the British Army (picture copyright: MoD)

Gurkhas have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years, but who are these fearsome Nepalese fighters?

"Better to die than be a coward" is the motto of the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who are an integral part of the British Army.

They still carry into battle their traditional weapon - an 18-inch long curved knife known as the kukri.

In times past, it was said that once a kukri was drawn in battle, it had to "taste blood" - if not, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath.

Now, the Gurkhas say, it is used mainly for cooking.

The potential of these warriors was first realised by the British at the height of their empire-building in the last century.

The Victorians identified them as a "martial race", perceiving in them particularly masculine qualities of toughness.

After suffering heavy casualties in the invasion of Nepal, the British East India Company signed a hasty peace deal in 1815, which also allowed it to recruit from the ranks of the former enemy.

Following the partition of India in 1947, an agreement between Nepal, India and Britain meant four Gurkha regiments from the Indian army were transferred to the British Army, eventually becoming the Gurkha Brigade.

Since then, the Gurkhas have loyally fought for the British all over the world, receiving 13 Victoria Crosses between them.

More than 200,000 fought in the two world wars and in the past 50 years, they have served in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo and now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gurkhas with the emblem of the feared kukri behind them

They serve in a variety of roles, mainly in the infantry but with significant numbers of engineers, logisticians and signals specialists.

The name "Gurkha" comes from the hill town of Gorkha from which the Nepalese kingdom had expanded.

The ranks have always been dominated by four ethnic groups, the Gurungs and Magars from central Nepal, the Rais and Limbus from the east, who live in hill villages of impoverished hill farmers.

They keep to their Nepalese customs and beliefs, and the brigade follows religious festivals such as Dashain, in which - in Nepal, not the UK - goats and buffaloes are sacrificed.

But their numbers have been sharply reduced from a World War II peak of 112,000 men, and now stand at about 3,500.

During the two World Wars 43,000 young men lost their lives.

The Gurkhas are now based at Shorncliffe near Folkestone, Kent - but they do not become British citizens.

The soldiers are still selected from young men living in the hills of Nepal - with about 28,000 youths tackling the selection procedure for just over 200 places each year.

The selection process has been described as one of the toughest in the world and is fiercely contested.

Young hopefuls have to run uphill for 40 minutes carrying a wicker basket on their back filled with rocks weighing 70lbs.

Prince Harry lived with a Gurkha battalion during his 10 weeks in Afghanistan.

There is said to be a cultural affinity between Ghurkas and the Afghan people which is beneficial to the British Army effort there.

'Excellent qualities'

Historian Tony Gould said Gurkhas have brought an excellent combination of qualities from a military point of view.

He said: "They are tough, they are brave, they are durable, they are amenable to discipline.

"They have another quality which you could say some British regiments had in the past, but it's doubtful that they have now, that is a strong family tradition.

"So that within each battalion there were usually very, very close family links, so when they were fighting, they were not so much fighting for their officers or the cause but for their friends and family."

After the Gurkhas have served their time in the Army - a maximum of 30 years, and a minimum of 15 to secure a pension - they are discharged back in Nepal.

Historically, they received a much smaller pension - at least six times less - than British soldiers, on the grounds that the cost of living is much lower in Nepal.

But with more choosing to settle permanently in the UK with their families, campaigners said this left them suffering considerable economic hardship. They won a partial victory in March 2007, when Defence Minister Derek Twigg announced that all those who retired after July 1997 would get the same pension as the rest of the Army.
....................Jesus H Christ. Your country lets every other dum**** nationality in. Why not the Ghurkas??

They've fought and died for you folks. Why so long??

Personally, I'd like to have a couple of them for next door neighbours..........knives and all.

.......(you goddamright)

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