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Qatar frees 8 Indian Navy men accused of espionage; 7 return home

In a positive development welcomed by India, Qatar has released eight former Indian Navy personnel who were detained in the Gulf country on charges of alleged espionage.

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Annesha Barua
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Indian Navy veterans at the Delhi airport after being freed by Qatar..jpg

Indian Navy veterans at the Delhi airport after being freed by Qatar.

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PTC News Desk: In a significant turn of events, Qatar has released eight former Indian Navy personnel who were detained in the Gulf country on charges of espionage. This development has been warmly welcomed by India, with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) expressing gratitude for Qatar's decision.

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According to a statement released by the MEA early on Monday, seven out of the eight former Indian Navy personnel, who were working for 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," stated the MEA.

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This diplomatic breakthrough follows a significant legal process. In December of the previous year, a Qatari court overturned the death penalty initially given to the eight Indian Navy veterans who were arrested in the Al Dahra Global case, opting instead for jail terms.

The reversal of the death sentence occurred after Qatar's Court of First Instance accepted an appeal filed by the Indian government against the harsh verdict. The eight Indian Navy officials detained in Qatar are named as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, and Sailor Ragesh.

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Upon their return to Delhi, the Indian Navy veterans expressed their gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his intervention in the matter. "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," expressed one of the Navy veterans.

His sentiments were echoed by another colleague who remarked, "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."

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"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," he added, underscoring the significance of the diplomatic efforts in securing their release.

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WHAT IS THE CASE?

In August 2022, several Indian nationals, formerly employed by Al Dahra, were apprehended in Qatar under suspicion of espionage. Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi publicly disclosed the charges against these individuals.

Following their arrest, the Navy veterans faced a grave legal ordeal, culminating in a distressing verdict on October 26, 2023. Qatar's Court of First Instance delivered death sentences to the Indian nationals, prompting a strong reaction from India. The Indian government condemned the ruling as deeply shocking and pledged to pursue all available legal avenues to address the situation.

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Reacting swiftly to the court's decision, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) underscored the significant importance of the case. It emphasized that India was diligently exploring all possible legal remedies in response to the charges brought against its citizens under Qatari law. The formal charges against the Indian nationals were filed on March 25, 2023, marking the beginning of a legal process that would ultimately determine their fate under the jurisdiction of the Qatari legal system.

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(Inputs from agencies)

 

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