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Gurkha veteran gives Newbury talk

Gyanraj Rai, who made headlines when he staged a hunger strike, drops into town

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

Gurkha veteran gives Newbury talk

A GURKHA veteran who made headlines around the world three years ago, after staging a two-week hunger strike, has given a talk in Newbury.

Gyanraj Rai, a veteran from the Nepalese brigade, famously camped outside Whitehall in 2013 and threatened to starve himself to death in his fight for equality for Gurkhas.

He called off the strike when a group of MPs announced plans to hold an inquiry into Gurkhas’ pensions and other grievances.

Last week, Mr Rai was in Newbury as guest speaker at a meeting of the Newbury and West Berkshire Labour Party, to talk about the Gurkha Veteran Campaign for Justice.

Mr Rai told the meeting that the Gurkhas had loyally served Britain as soldiers but were now living in poverty.

“We have been exploited, we have been disadvantaged, and we have been abused. We are just asking for help from the British public.”

The veteran, now a Reading bus driver, added: “If we had to write our all our griefs, it would be 100 pages long. When the British public were signing our petition and were reading our grievances, they were dripping their tears on the paper.

“The Government is not listening. We don’t want to go on hunger strike, it’s not good for us, it’s not good for this country.”

Party member Gary Puffett said: “It is always a pleasure meeting Gyanraj and extremely humbling to hear his story. His longstanding campaign for justice has meant it has taken up a great deal of his life and it is unfortunate to think he and his colleagues have been forced into this position.

“The Gurkhas have a long and distinguished association with the British Army and have served with honour for over 200 years. It is very disappointing that so many veterans live in poverty but I’m sure once the British public is made aware of the situation they will fight for the Gurkhas as they have fought for us.”   

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