Nepalese Gurkhas End Hunger Strike over UK Military Pensions

Gurkha military veterans take part in a hunger strike relay in London
In this Wednesday Aug. 18, 2021 photo, Gurkha military veterans take part in a hunger strike relay outside Downing Street in London. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON — A 13-day hunger strike by former Nepalese Gurkha soldiers came to an end Thursday after the British government agreed to enter talks with the Nepalese Embassy over equal pensions for veterans.

The agreement came a day after one of the veterans, 60-year-old Dhan Gurung, was admitted to the hospital with heart problems.

Gurkha soldiers, who are recruited from Nepal, have served the British Army for more than 200 years, including during both world wars and most recently in Afghanistan. They have a reputation as hard and loyal fighters, and are known for the trademark curved kukri blades they carry sheathed on their belts.

The hunger strikers were part of a group of protesters calling for equal pensions for Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and are not eligible for a full British armed forces pension.

“Our primary concern is always the health and welfare of our serving personnel and veterans, and this strike was not a course of action we encouraged," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

“We look forward to meeting with the group next month alongside the Nepali ambassador to move forward together," the ministry added.

The Gurkha Equal Rights campaign group said in a tweet that the hunger strike has been called off after “13 days of fast unto death.”

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