Gurkha returns to Downing Street hunger strike from hospital

Dhan Gurung, 59, from Basingstoke, has been protesting from his wheelchair in Whitehall near the gates to Downing Street. Credit: PA Images

A former Gurkha soldier who has been on hunger strike outside the gates to Downing Street for over 11 days has returned to the protest after being taken to hospital last night.

Contrary to initial reports, which claimed Dhan Gurung had suffered a heart attack, he released a statement on social media this morning, which read: "Last night 7pm I was rushed to St Thomas hospital because of high BP & low heart beating".

"After treatment I came back at 1:10am. Now I’m in a normal condition. Thanks to all my prayers".

A Gurkha veterans protest opposite Downing Street Credit: Hollie Adams/PA

Dhan Gurung, 59, from Basingstoke, who has been protesting from his wheelchair in Whitehall near the gates to Downing Street, had previously told the PA news agency: "When I retired from the British Army, my pension was £20 a month, whereas my British counterpart received £400 or more".

"What a trick by the Government; it makes me hurt still."

Why are the Gurkha Veterans on hunger strike?

The campaigners calling for Gurkhas, who retired before 1997, to be eligible for a full UK Armed Forces Pension.

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.

The change 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, whereas the previous pension scheme had lower rates as it had assumed they would return to Nepal where the cost of living was significantly lower.

Serving Gurkhas, and those with service on or after July 1 1997, could now opt to transfer into the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. Under current rules, those who retired before 1997 are not eligible for a full UK armed forces pension.

An MOD spokesperson said: “The UK Government is committed to providing Gurkhas a fair pension, including uplifts determined by formal review processes. This includes extensive consultation with Gurkha veteran groups and the government of Nepal, with more meetings scheduled next month.”

“Gurkhas in service from 1997 receive exactly the same pension arrangements as other personnel. The Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS), for those in service between 1948 and 1997, provides a competitive pension that is at least as good as those given to others with identical periods of service.”

“The GPS differs from other pension schemes but provides a positive standard of living in Nepal and is objectively fair and justified, as upheld by three Judicial Reviews since 2003, including a case that went to the European Court of Human Rights.”

“We greatly value the contribution that Gurkhas make and do not wish to see veterans undertaking such protests unnecessarily.”