Gurkha soldier’s widow can stay on in Britain


London : Stung by attacks over its policies on Gurkha ex-soldiers, the British government has told the widow of a Gurkha soldier killed in Afghanistan last week that she can stay on in Britain.

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Normally, Parbati Pun – widow of Corporal Kumar Purja Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles – would have had to leave Britain along with her two young children or apply for new residency visas.

But the British home ministry said it would not ask the widow of any soldier killed in action to leave, the Sunday Times reported.

The paper said the death of 30-year-old Pun – among four British soldiers killed in Afghanistan Thursday – has given a new purpose to a spreading campaign to allow Gurkha ex-soldiers the right to live in Britain.

Earlier this month, the British parliament rejected government plans to severely restrict the rights of Gurkha ex-soldier to settle down in Britain.

In what was seen as a humiliating defeat for the government, opponents argued that it had a moral responsibility toward Gurkhas, up to 50,000 of whom have been killed in action protecting British interests over 200 years.

Indian-born screen actress Joanna Lumley, who has been leading the Gurkha campaign, said Pun’s death shows “the Gurkhas are at the centre of the army and are willing to fight for the British and give up their lives for this country”.

“That is why we have to give the veteran Gurkhas the right of a second homeland and it proves how brave the Gurkhas are,” she added.