Big Win For India As Qatar Releases 8 Indian Navy Veterans Jailed On Espionage Charges
New Delhi: India has scored a significant diplomatic breakthrough with the release of eight former Indian Navy personnel, who were initially sentenced to death on ‘espionage’ charges in Qatar.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement on Monday, expressing satisfaction with the outcome while confirming that seven of the eight former Indian Navy personnel, employed by the Al Dahra Global Company, a private firm, have returned to India from Qatar. “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 Emir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals,” the MEA said in a statement.
In August 2022, Indian nationals employed by Dahra Global were detained by Qatari authorities over suspected espionage. Due to the sensitivity of the situation, neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi disclosed the charges against them publicly.
On October 26, 2023, Qatar’s Court of First Instance issued death sentences to the Navy veterans. India reacted strongly, describing the verdict as “deeply” shocking and pledged to pursue all available legal avenues in response to the ruling.
In December 2023, a Qatari court overturned the death penalty imposed on eight Indian Navy veterans involved in the Dahra Global case. Instead, they were given prison sentences. This decision followed the acceptance of an appeal by the Indian government against the death sentences handed down to the Navy veterans by Qatar’s Court of First Instance.
While External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar managed the diplomatic aspect, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval led the delicate negotiations for the release of the former Navy personnel through several discreet visits to Doha, according to Hindustan Times.
This development occurred shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during the COP28 summit in Dubai in November last year.
“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,” one of the released Navy veterans said.
“We waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister. It wouldn’t have been possible without his personal intervention and his equation with Qatar,” another released veteran added.