Qatar Releases 8 Jailed Navy Veterans, 7 Back In India

New Delhi:

Eight Indian Navy veterans jailed in Qatar on alleged espionage charges have been released, the government said early this morning. Seven of them are already back in India after an 18-month prison term in the Middle East.

“The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals who worked for the company Dahra Global and were detained in Qatar. Seven out of eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision of the Emir of the State of Qatar to grant the release and homecoming of these nationals,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The veterans had no prior information about their release and were taken by embassy officials shortly after they were released, sources told NDTV. They boarded an IndiGo flight yesterday and returned after 2am, 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 Seaman Ragesh were arrested in August and have been in jail since then.

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

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

The death penalty was commuted in December following India’s diplomatic intervention.

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

“We are very happy to be back safely in India. We would certainly like to thank Prime Minister Modi as this was only possible due to his personal intervention,” one of them said.

“We waited almost 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister. It would not have been possible without his personal intervention and his comparison with Qatar. We have been grateful to the Indian government since the beginning. We thank our hearts for every effort made and this day would not have been possible without those efforts,” said another.

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