Gurkha on hunger strike outside Downing Street taken to hospital

A Gurkha veteran who has been on a hunger strike outside Downing Street was taken to hospital with heart issues.

Dhan Gurung, who is part of a group of protesters and has not eaten for 11 days, was taken to hospital shortly after 1.30am on Wednesday and was later discharged.

The 60-year-old, from Basingstoke, has been protesting from his wheelchair in Whitehall near the gates to Downing Street, calling for equal pensions for Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and are not eligible for a full UK armed forces pension.

He previously told the PA news agency: “We will keep coming back here, we want to continue our hunger (strike) until death.

“We don’t care about sacrificing our life.”

Yam Gurung, 71, spokesperson for the Gurkhas, said he now has a blood pressure monitor and a heartbeat monitor to keep on top of his health.

He said the Support Our Gurkhas protesters are getting “weaker”.

He told PA: “On Monday, Dhan sent an email to his family in Nepal and said ‘This will be my last email’.

“I was so worried about him I stayed with him all day. Then the next morning he said he was OK and so I went home.

“The next thing I hear is he had been rushed to hospital.

“I was so frightened. He was taken to hospital because his heart is so weak and he is taking medicine but is not eating anything, he’s just having water. He’s getting weaker and weaker.

“He didn’t want to go to hospital – he said ‘I will die here’. But we convinced him to go. He told me quietly that his heart can stop any time, so we have got monitors and a medic keeping an eye on his health.”

Gurkha veterans hunger strike
Yam Gurung, 71, spokesperson for the Gurkhas, standing by posters during the protest outside Downing Street (Isobel Frodsham/PA)

He added: “It wasn’t a heart attack, he just has minor problems with his heart. They’re (all the Gurkhas) are getting weaker.

“The Government must listen.

“We have done so much. Why are they treating us like illegitimate children? We have done so much for them.

“We don’t want anybody to die here. Not a single one. We are human beings. I want to ask Boris Johnson, what is your interpretation of human rights? Tell the world. Tell the Gurkhas.”

Mr Johnson was seen leaving Downing Street and heading to Parliament at around 9.20am on Wednesday.

The Gurkha protesters, along with other protesters campaigning on separate issues, began shouting at Mr Johnson as he drove past.

Shortly after 11am, hundreds of Gurkhas marched past Parliament.

They were chanting “No justice, no peace” and “What do we want? Justice” as they walked past the House of Commons.

The Gurkhas later looped back round and walked to Parliament Square.

Around 200,000 Gurkhas fought in both world wars, also serving in places such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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.

Serving Gurkhas, and those with service on or after July 1 1997, could then opt to transfer into the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

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.

Later on, the Gurkhas sat on the grass at Parliament Square where they listened to speeches and applauded.

They also watched a performance of a traditional masked dance.

Around 150 Gurkhas have gathered in the square.