In a major diplomatic victory, Qatar released eight former Indian Navy personnel on February 12, who had been detained on alleged espionage charges.
This significant diplomatic achievement for India came after the death sentences initially imposed on these individuals were commuted to extended prison terms following intervention by New Delhi. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India played a crucial role in securing their release and safe return.
The eight veterans, employed by the Al Dahra Global Company, had been imprisoned since October 2022. They were accused of spying on a submarine program, but the specific charges were not publicly disclosed due to the sensitive nature of the case. The Court of First Instance in Qatar had sentenced them to death on October 26, 2023, a decision that was met with shock and a commitment from India to explore all legal avenues.
Following an appeal by the Indian government, the Qatari court revised its ruling, reducing the death penalty to jail terms. The detailed judgment of the case is still awaited, and the Indian MEA is in close contact with the legal team in Qatar to decide on further steps.
Seven of the released Navy veterans have already returned to India, expressing profound gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his personal intervention and the strong bilateral relationship with Qatar that facilitated their release. The names of the detained officials are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, and Sailor Ragesh.
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