In a significant diplomatic breakthrough, Qatar has released eight Indian Navy veterans who were previously imprisoned on ‘espionage’ charges in the Arab country. Originally sentenced to death, their punishment was later commuted to an extended prison term following diplomatic intervention by New Delhi.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had previously assured the anxious families of the Navy veterans that it would leverage all diplomatic channels and provide legal assistance to secure their release and safe return to India.
As of Monday, seven out of the eight former Navy officers have successfully returned to India, as confirmed by an official statement from the MEA.
#WATCH | Delhi: One of the Navy veterans who returned from Qatar says, "We are very happy that we are back in India, safely. Definitely, we would like to thank PM Modi, as this was only possible because of his personal intervention…" pic.twitter.com/iICC1p7YZr
— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2024
Expressing gratitude, one of the Navy veterans stated, “It wouldn’t have been possible for us to stand here without the intervention of PM Modi. And it also happened due to the continuous efforts of the Government of India.”
Another veteran echoed these sentiments, saying, “We waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the PM. It wouldn’t have been possible without his personal intervention and his equation with Qatar. We are grateful to the Government of India from the bottom of our hearts for every effort that has been made, and this day wouldn’t have been possible without those efforts.”
The Union government officially welcomed the decision to release the veteran officers, stating, “The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals.”
The eight Indian nationals had been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022, accused of spying on a submarine program. The retired naval personnel had initially received a death sentence from a Qatar court on charges that were not officially disclosed.
The Qatari Court later commuted the death penalty sentence to jail terms, citing the Dahra Global case. The Ministry of External Affairs expressed, “We have noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global case, in which the sentences have been reduced.”
#WATCH | Delhi: One of the Navy veterans who returned from Qatar says, "It wouldn't have been possible for us to stand here without the intervention of PM Modi. And it also happened due to the continuous efforts of the Government of India." pic.twitter.com/bcwEWvWIDK
— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2024
While awaiting the detailed judgment, the MEA remains in close contact with the legal team in Qatar, emphasizing continued support for the affected families. Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a crucial role in the resolution, discussing the matter with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during the COP28 summit in Dubai, addressing bilateral partnership, and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar.