Gyanendra Rai was a Lance Corporal in the British Army, who fought in the Falkland’s war; 25 years ago

. For those with short memories, the Falkland Islands is a British colony and consists of two large and many small islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, East of Argentina. In 1982, the Argentine military government, headed by General Leopoldo Galtieri, sent in troops to occupy one of the islands. Britain launched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force, and retake the islands by amphibious assault. After combat resulting in 258 British and 649 Argentine deaths, the British eventually prevailed; and the islands remained under British control. The entire military action lasted three months. Lance Corporal Rai, of the Gurkha Brigade, was sent to the Falklands in 1982, attached to B Company of the 1st Battalion of the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles. His group came under attack on June 11, after a three-day march to Bluff Cove in freezing temperatures. Rai’s back was torn open after he was shelled. The Lance Corporal, now 51, served in the army for 13 years and was awarded the South Atlantic Medal. As a result of the Falklands action, he needed a skin and muscle graft from another soldier to heal his wounds; and still bears the scars. Even after three operations the former machine gunner is still in constant pain. So why is this relevant today? Rai wants to come to UK for treatment to his injuries be¬cause he cannot afford the med¬ication at home in Nepal. The British government has denied him a visa. The official reason given is that he had insufficient links with Britain to justify a visa. Insufficient links? This man fought for Britain, for God’s sake, and suffered grievous bodily injuries for his efforts. The decision has meant he missed the 25th an¬niversary of the event to mark the victory of the conflict. The Gurkhas have fought loyally for Britain all over the world. There are now 3,500, down from a peak of 112,000 in World War II. Although they are based in Shorncliffe near Folke¬stone, Kent, they do not become UK citizens. In 2000, 40 ex- Gur¬khas were refused temporary work permits to work as lorry drivers here. The Government said the jobs should go to driv¬ers from EU countries instead. The official Foreign Office response, when questioned by reporters, was "We can't comment on individual visa applications." Bureaucracy at its finest. I am sorry but, whichever way the British government tries to sugar coat this disgraceful decision, it smacks of racism. The real deciding factor was the color of this man’s skin and the slant of his eyes. In the eyes of the immigration authorities, ‘people like that’ are likely to overstay their visa and, maybe, remain indefinitely. I do not think Rai is cut from that cloth, but even suppose he did just that. So what? The initial travesty of justice is that the British government was quite content to let the Gurkhas fight and die for their adopted country, but did not consider them good enough to be granted British citizenship. You cannot honor a soldier who fought for your country; and then treat him like a pariah. Is this the much vaunted British sense of fair play? It makes me sick. Source: Daily Mail