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Indian Navy8 former Indian Navy officers get death penalty in Qatar

8 former Indian Navy officers get death penalty in Qatar

The detained individuals are 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. All are former Indian Navy members employed by Dahra Global.

In a surprising verdict, a Qatari court has sentenced eight former Indian Navy personnel to death in connection with an alleged espionage case. This decision has dealt a blow to India’s attempts at securing their freedom. The exact charges against these Indian nationals remain undisclosed by the Qatari authorities.

The Indian government expressed deep shock over the ruling and mentioned that they are considering all legal avenues available. The detained individuals, associated with the Doha-based firm Dahra Global, were arrested in August 2022. Insiders suggest that these individuals were liaising with Dahra Global on a project involving Italian stealth submarines U2I2 in a non-official capacity.

The detained individuals are 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. All are former Indian Navy members employed by Dahra Global.

Reacting to this development, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stressed the significance of the case, vowing to provide continued consular and legal support to the individuals. The ministry will also engage with Qatari authorities regarding the verdict. They refrained from further comments due to the confidential nature of the case proceedings.

The Opposition party, Congress, expressed deep concern and urged swift action from the Indian government. Congress MP Jairam Ramesh emphasized the urgency of using diplomatic means to ensure proper appeal processes and ultimately secure their release.

Background:

The case highlights the evolving dynamics between India and Qatar, a significant Gulf nation with considerable influence in international diplomacy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Qatar in 2016, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, had visited India in 2015.

Following their arrest, the former Navy members experienced a slight reprieve as they were transferred from solitary confinement to a joint cell with colleagues. The reasons behind their arrest remain unclear. Additionally, two Qatari citizens, including Dahra Global’s CEO, Khamis al-Ajmi, faced charges. An Omani national, initially detained, was released ahead of the FIFA World Cup.

Former Indian Ambassador to Doha, Deepak Mittal, interacted with the detainees during their detention period. According to sources, the MEA has been actively monitoring the situation and providing assistance. There have been discussions and petitions at various official and political levels, emphasizing adherence to international laws and the judicial processes of the host nation.

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