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Congress extends good wishes to Navy veterans who returned to India from Qatar after being jailed on 'espionage' charges

February 12, 2024 11:04 AM

New Delhi : The Congress party greeted and wished eight Indian veterans of the Indian Navy following their release from a Qatar court after months of detention in the Gulf country.


In a major diplomatic triumph for India, eight veterans of the Indian Navy who were sentenced to death in Qatar were released on Monday. The capital punishment was commuted to an extended prison term earlier following diplomatic intervention by New Delhi.

 


Following this, the Congress General Secretary, Jairam Ramesh posted on X, "The Indian National Congress joins the entire nation in its relief and happiness that the eight former Indian Navy personnel earlier sentenced to death by a court in Qatar have been released and are back home. It sends its greetings and good wishes to them and their families."

Amid desperate pleas by the anxious kin of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilise all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.


The Union government released an official statement welcoming the decision to set the veteran officers free, saying, "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 men- 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 imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme.


The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.
Earlier, the Qatari Court commuted the death penalty sentence of eight ex-Indian naval officers it had arrested last year in the Dahra Global case, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press statement. The sentence has now been reduced to jail terms.

Describing the judgement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, "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.


"The MEA also said that the detailed judgement in the case is awaited and are in close touch with the legal team in Qatar.

 

MEA added, "The detailed judgement is awaited. We are in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps. Our Ambassador to Qatar and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities."


Relieved to finally walk free, the seven former Navy officers raised chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' after arriving at the Delhi airport in the early hours of Monday.


Speaking to ANI, one of the Navy veterans lauded PM Modi for raising their sentencing with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and attributed their release to relentless diplomatic efforts at his behest.


"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.


Wearing a relieving smile and a calm demeanour, another released former naval officer told ANI, "Without the intervention of PM Modi, we would not have walked free. We wouldn't be standing before you today had it not been for his untiring efforts and interventions at the highest levels to get us freedom."


"We waited almost 18 months to be back home to our loved ones in India. We are extremely grateful to PM Modi for getting us back. We wouldn't have seen this day without the joint efforts of PM Modi and the Emir of Qatar. The personal equations that the two leaders share also helped in our release," another Navy veteran told ANI after landing in Delhi.

 

On the sidelines of the COP 28 climate sustainability summit in Dubai in December last year, PM Modi met the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad and had a 'good conversation' about the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar. In a post on social media platform X, PM Modi posted a picture with Qatar's Emir and wrote, "On the sidelines of the #COP28 Summit in Dubai yesterday, had the opportunity to meet HH Sheikh @TamimBinHamad, the Amir of Qatar. We had a good conversation on the potential of bilateral partnership and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar."

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