Qatar Frees 8 Navy Veterans; 7 Back In India

New Delhi: Eight Indian Navy veterans jailed in Qatar over alleged spying charges have been released, the government said early this morning. Seven of them are already back in India after an 18-month jail stay in the Middle-East country.

“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 foreign ministry said.

The veterans did not have prior information of their release and were taken away by embassy officials shortly after they were freed, sources told NDTV. They boarded an IndiGo flight yesterday and returned after 2 am, they added.

Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh were arrested in August 2022 and had been in jail since.

They were employed by a private firm, Dahra Global, and were in Qatar to assist with the introduction of Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force in their personal roles.

A Qatari court sentenced them to death on October 26, 2023. India had said it was “deeply shocked” by the verdict and that it was exploring all legal options.

The capital punishment was commuted in December, weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai. 

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The Navy veterans, now back in the country, thanked PM Modi and the government for securing their release.

“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,” said one of them.

“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 won’t have been possible without those efforts,” said another.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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