In a major diplomatic win for India, eight Indian Navy personnel have been released by Qatar, who were earlier sentenced to death by Doha in connection with an alleged case of espionage. Seven of the eight former Indian Navy personnel have now returned to India.
What makes it a diplomatic win for Bharat is that the decision of Qatar government drastically changed following diplomatic intervention by New Delhi, and thus, the death penalty was previously modified to a prolonged jail sentence and now the Navy personnel have been released.
What is issue
India described the ruling as "deeply" shocking
and vowed to explore all legal options in the case. An appeal was filed against the death sentence and a higher court in Qatar admitted the plea. The appeal was filed by the legal team of the detained Indian nationals. On 23 November 2023, India's appeal against the death penalty was accepted.
The Indian ambassador to Qatar
met eight former Indian Navy personnel who were handed death sentence by a Qatari court in October. A week after a Qatar court commuted the death sentences of eight Indian ex-Navy personnel, the External Affairs Ministry said that a 60-day window has opened to appeal the case in the highest court in Qatar.
Amid all this PM Modi met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the "well-being of the Indian community" living in Qatar.
Last month, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs Randhir Jaiswal said the temporal significance of this period, stating, "As far as the issue is concerned, there is a time of 60 days when this issue can be appealed in the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in Qatar."
The veterans – Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh – were detained in August 2022 on undeclared charges. All of these former Navy officers had "unblemished stints" of up to 20 years in the Indian Navy. Among the eight veterans, Captain Navtej Gill was awarded the President's Gold Medal for excellence when he graduated from the Naval Academy and later served as an instructor at the Defence Services Staf.
Seven Indian naval veterans showered appreciation on Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Interacting with reporters, some of the veterans claimed that they wouldn't have been released had it for the sustained diplomatic efforts at his behest to secure their release.
Relieved to finally walk free, the seven former Indian Navy officers raised chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at the Delhi airport, reported news agency ANI.
Navy veteran praised Prime Minister Modi for discussing their sentence with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and credited him for their release via persistent diplomatic efforts."I feel relieved and delighted to finally be back home safe and sound. I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi as this wouldn't have been possible had it not been for his personal intervention to secure our release. I also wish to express my gratitude to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar," he said.
Another freed navy veteran also came out in praise of the Centre's intervention in securing their release, saying, "We, as well as our anxious family members back home, had been waiting for this day for a long time. It all worked out because of PM Modi and his personal intervention in the matter. He took up our case with the highest levels of the Qatari government and eventually secured our release. I don't have enough words to express my gratitude to him and the Emir of Qatar."