Aldershot and Gurkhas – The Saga

Now as a blogger with a lot of people reading from England and having a dad who is an ex-Gurkha it’s very tricky for me to give my opinions on this issue. I always have to think of the wider public here. Joanna Lumley’s Gurkha Justice campaign was successful in granting residential rights to Gurkha’s who retired before 1997 which has undoubtedly made life a bit difficult for the original residents of Aldershot (so some claim). Now being ”multicultural” is something that UK boasts of, however the reaction from Gerald Howarth an MP who represents Aldershot and Farnborough in parliament is not too kind. Howarth’s most recent comment where he said ”There needs to be policy of dispersal (of the Gurkhas)” has once again outraged many Gurkha veterans and supporters who believe they have every right just like an average British person.
A protest organized for the 1st of October by activists from Aldershot and Farnborough has been called off due to fear that it would be hijacked by the wrong people. ”Lumleys Legacy” is a Facebook group which is quickly gaining a large following online claiming itself not to be a racist group (I’m observing and it’s not). The group statement describes ‘it’s problems are not with the Nepalese people themselves but the Government and the fact that they never prepared the infrastructure or supplied more money for the area’ which has a large concentration of Nepalese people. Their aim is to work with the Nepalese community leaders. Now I don’t exactly know what ‘work’ would entail but the want to establish civil communication at this level is already a positive thing.
Various members on the group have expressed their discomfort in seeing elderly Gurkhas peeing on the streets and have talked about the growing friction between the Nepali and English youths in the area. This is very much true and is something which we Nepalis need to address. On my recent Jet Airways flight from Kathmandu to London I noticed an elderly couple… a Gurkha couple. It must have been their first time travelling to UK because through my observation I could see the journey being a struggle for them. The minimal English which the man knew didn’t do the couple any favor as the air steward would rudely attend to them. Now even my parents struggle with technology and English but they’re still at an age where they’re learning and have that capacity to pick things up but the couple I saw looked like they were  past 60. I’m confident in saying that the Gurkha Justice campaign in some ways sold the ‘British Dream’ in a flattering light and this is surely one of the many factors behind their move. 
This growing discomfort isn’t helped by the Nepalese community. The original residents of the Rushmoor area blame the lack of integration between the Nepali and British community and I can relate with that. Reports of Nepali youths being thrashed by English youths is not new and to balance this out, reports of Nepali youths being arrested for petty crimes is slowly becoming all too common. You don’t see many English and Nepali youths hanging out together, more so there’s a whole different level of division between Nepalis (think of all the caste focused events – seriously where have we lost our ‘Being Nepali’ ethos?). 
MP Howarth maybe using the Gurkhas situation to sway public opinion to gain more votes and a larger budget. However, it is high time that he presents a solution regarding the ”overwhelming number of Gurkhas” before he presents himself to the media brash and antagonistic views which not only offend Gurkhas but give the wrong sort of publicity to the good name of hardworking Gurkhas and other Nepalese people. As I think of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, I am sure they too had their struggle, backlash from wider British society and their beginnings was just as problematic if not more. Since this is the early beginning for the settlement of the Gurkhas, friction is inevitable and more unforeseen problems are yet to arise. 
Lets hope that Aldershot will be a lesson for us all. 
Lex Limbu
Lex Limbu is a non-resident Nepali blogger based in the UK. YouTube videos is where he started initially followed by blogging. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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  1. I think the excuse of gurkhas immigration is a sad-excuse but it is politics in the end! Also singling out gurkhas from a quite diverse community of aldershot and farnbro is a bit of laugh as aldershot prides itself for being the largest military base/town in UK. So erm give me a break?

    And with regards to baje-bajais conducting all sorts of public nuisance should be addressed separately. It does not need to come under this topic of discussion. Maybe its better to educate them than name and shame?

  2. The saga is truly erupting, and under everyone’s noses. Certain people in the Lumley Legacy group definitely have none integration intentions. But some have very valid points about how Nepali’s have adjusted to the UK, where we used to have just caste divide events, now there is village divisions, regiment divisions etc. If Nepali’s (as a minority in the UK) remain divided then a group like Lumley’s legacy, will be quick to jump on the bandwagon of this. Gerald Howarth’s comment (which again is politically influenced) was outrage because he said that ‘there should be a policy of dispersal for Gurkhas, like asylum seekers’ and the mere comparison of the two was insulting.
    This saga is not going to die down quickly, and this is when we should consciously, both Nepalis and Brits try to work together.

  3. Well written, the topic was bothering me for quite a while but you put it together nicely.
    Thumbs up. We should really look into this.

  4. Had the British government been fair with pension scheme few years back, we (our father’s) could all have, possibly, been in a win-win situation. However, youths may disagree. I wouldn’t have made it here without my father’s help. 😀


  5. A great perspective and the future is through working together and having constructive talks…..Integration is the key to a fairer Rushmoor for all but the Nepali community need to relay home that this is not the land of milk and honey that is being sold as.
    I have many concerns about Rushmoor at the moment most of which you have covered we need to find a way to connect the youth groups to help control rising tension, segregation builds animosity we need to get them working/socializing together.
    I also am concerned about the elderly that appear to be told to leave their homes from 9 till 5 how will they cope come the winter when they have nowhere to go i believe Aldershot needs a community/resettlement center where people of all backgrounds can go for a cup of tea or soup and mix together and also have information on all public services and information on the laws of the uk.this venue could be used to hold mixed race youth events i.e Disco’s table tennis tournaments and pool tournaments I also think that there need to be referees placed in the parks at basketball courts football/rugby pitches to manage mixed race games/matches i have seen many sporting events arranged that are British teams against Napali teams i believe that these are counterproductive as they divide the two groups even more.
    These are only a few ideas but none of can or will happen until the government take responsibility for the fact that we ALL need help to make Rushmoor a fairer place to live

    Sam Phillips Creator of the group “Lumley’s Legacy”

  6. Great blog Lex,

    Sam Phillips – you have raised this issue and initiated this campaign in a very controversial manner but I am pleased to see that you are now focused on the need for integration and not dispersal.

    I urge you and all the community leaders that represent each sub groups to consolidate your efforts to campaign for greater budget from the Government and create a united community that appreciates and involves all residents.


  7. I think all the people who bring baje and boju just for money(which they get for being old) should be the one to blame.They bring old baje and boju here and let them explore the place alone.In here, most of the people are still struggling financially and working all day and all night.Truthfully they can’t give enough care for their parents and just look at the weather,UK has winter almost throughout the year which is vey hard to adapt for old people who had been living in Nepal for long time or wholelife.What good are they doing by bringing baje and bojus here rather that filling their bank with baje boju ko bhattaa(money).Since UK is so different from where they grew up,their sons and daughters should be responsible to give them some informations like peeing in front of the pubic is a big NO NO and all sorts of stuffs like that.Bajes and bojus are helpless.When people become old, they become like a children so their kids are responsible for giving information and telling them what is right or what is wrong.I don’t blame baje bojus, I blame their kids.

  8. That was indeed a very good read and I couldn’t agree more with anonymous (3).

    I did personally go through the facebook page and with a few expceptions, I found the intention behind it very valid. I like many others believe “integration” is the key here which can only and only be achieved if both the communities work “together”.

  9. you have put it out in a great way lex and I agree BAjes and baojus should be educated about things such as peeing on the street coz its no village. Their grand children should teach them. I mean common think about it it was them who taught you to behave in the society and now its your turn to do the same . we didn’t know how to behave when we were little and now we should teach them they should not behave the same way as they were in Nepal. such as blocking the way while talking, not queuing up or even talking really loudly on the bus.I teach my granny what to do and not to do out in public and she clearly understands it and follows it too. I mean it should start with an individual house, teach your grandparents or your relatives you know its not so hard. however having said that I have tried to teach this random baje once not to stand near the zebra crossing while talking but he was clearly mad at me for giving him an advice which pissed me off btw.
    p.s talking about a lot nepalese in aldershot area well pftt!! what would say about place like southall 😉 but I agree that elderly nepalese people should be educated about things
    PEACE xD

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