The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) expressed gratitude for the decision made by the Qatar court to release eight former Indian Navy personnel who had previously faced the death penalty.
According to the MEA, all eight ex-Indian Navy personnel held by the Qatar court have been released, with seven of them having already returned to India. The ministry commended the Qatar court’s decision to release the former Indian Navy personnel and welcomed them back home.
In an official statement, the MEA stated, “The Government of India is pleased with the release of eight Indian nationals employed by the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven of them have returned to India. We commend the decision made by the Amir of the State of Qatar to facilitate the release and return of these individuals.”
Initially, the imprisoned Indian Navy veterans had received death sentences, which were later commuted to extended prison terms following diplomatic negotiations between Qatar and India. The prison sentences were further reduced after family members of the incarcerated Indians reached out to the MEA, which assured the utilization of all diplomatic and legal avenues to repatriate them.
Out of the eight former Indian Navy officers detained in Qatar, seven have returned to India, as confirmed by the MEA. Efforts are underway to bring the remaining veteran back home.
Why were ex-Indian Navy personnel jailed in Qatar ?
In October 2022, eight Indian nationals, who were former Indian Navy personnel, were arrested in Qatar on suspicion of spying on a submarine program. They were convicted of espionage by the Qatari court and were given the death penalty for undisclosed charges.
The Ministry of External Affairs reacted strongly to the court’s decision, calling it “deeply shocking.” They pledged to explore all legal avenues to have the charges against the former Indian Navy personnel dropped.
Last year, there was a significant development in the Dahra Global case when the Qatari court, following intervention by the Indian government, reduced the death sentences of the Indian nationals to prison terms.
Who are the 8 Indian ex-Navy veterans released by Qatar?
The group of detained veterans includes respected naval officers and a sailor, each with their own career path. Notable among them are Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma, Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh. Captain Navtej Gill, who received the President’s Gold Medal for excellence, illustrates the high standards of these individuals, having worked as an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College in Tamil Nadu. Commander Tiwari, honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2019, was involved in training the Qatari Navy through his association with Dahra Global Technologies.
- Eight veterans, including Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, were detained in August 2022 on undisclosed charges.
- They were associated with Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies, which provided training to Qatar’s armed forces.
- Notable figures like Captain Navtej Gill, who received the President’s Gold Medal for excellence, were among the detained veterans.
- Their objective in Qatar was to assist in introducing Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force.
- “People familiar with the matter had earlier said on condition of anonymity that Purnendu Tiwari was given a 25-year prison term, while Ragesh was given a three-year sentence,” providing insight into the varying lengths of the sentences imposed.