Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shhh. Don't Anger Them.

The new Maoist government is unhappy with the Gurkhas.

KATHMANDU, April 24 (Reuters) - For nearly two centuries, Nepal's valiant Gurkha soldiers have battled their foes with guns and their lethal kukri knives, which tradition demands must draw blood every time it is unsheathed.

But in a narrow lane off Nepal's parliament complex, they prepare for a battle of a different kind -- not with weapons but printing machines and fliers. Their enemy: a life-altering new diktat from Nepal's rulers-elect, the Maoists.

The Maoists, who won a surprise election this month after a decade of civil war, want to stop a 200-year-old tradition of Gurkhas enrolling in the British and Indian armies, calling the practice humiliating and mercenary.

It is a charge the Gurkhas do not deny, but Nepal's crushing poverty and unemployment have pushed the valiant warrior tribe into a moral dilemma of choosing between dignity and livelihood.

"Nothing stirs a Gurkha more than his honour dared, but here we are in a fix," Mahendra Lal Rai, the general secretary of the largest former Gurkha soldiers group, told Reuters.

One of the Gurhkas was heard to mutter, I will give up my Kukri when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.

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