Seven Navy veterans arrived in Delhi aboard an IndiGo flight in the early hours of the morning, marking the end of a harrowing chapter in their lives.
After enduring incarceration in Qatar, the seven Navy veterans, who were repatriated to India today, were taken by surprise by their sudden release, according to sources close to the situation.
With little warning, they were instructed by their jailors last night to pack their belongings and await transportation at approximately 9 am local time yesterday. From there, they were swiftly transported to the Embassy before being ushered to the airport, where they boarded an IndiGo flight that touched down in Delhi at 2 am.
These veterans, along with eight other Indians, had been sentenced to death by a Qatar court in October, under allegations of espionage. However, diplomatic efforts led to the commutation of their capital punishment in December, paving the way for their eventual return home. While seven have already arrived back in India, the remaining veteran is in the final stages of paperwork and is expected to join them shortly.
The veterans who have returned today include Captain Navtej Singh Gill (retired), Captain Saurabh Vasisht (retired), Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retired), Captain Birendra Kumar Verma (retired), Commander Sugunakar Pakala (retired), Commander Sanjeev Gupta (retired), Commander Amit Nagpal (retired), and Sailor Ragesh (retired). They were detained in Qatar in 2022 and have been incarcerated since then.
Although initial reports cited espionage charges as the reason for their arrest, neither New Delhi nor Doha has publicly commented on the allegations. Prior to their detention, the veterans were employed by Dahra Global, a private firm, where they were involved in training the Qatar Navy.
A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs acknowledging their release expressed gratitude to the Amir of the State of Qatar for facilitating the return of the eight Indian nationals associated with Dahra Global. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during the COP28 summit in Dubai played a pivotal role in securing their release.
Upon their return, one of the veterans expressed heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Modi, stating, “We are immensely grateful to be back in India, safe and sound. Our deepest thanks go to PM Modi, whose personal intervention made this possible.”
Another veteran echoed these sentiments, saying, “After enduring 18 months of separation from our homeland, we are overwhelmed with gratitude. PM Modi’s efforts, coupled with India’s diplomatic relations, have brought us back home, and for that, we are indebted to the Government of India.”
Their journey from incarceration to freedom stands as a testament to the power of diplomacy and the unwavering commitment of leaders to ensure the safety and well-being of their citizens, even in the face of adversity.