DODA, 12 February 2024: Nearly eighteen months after they were arrested in an alleged case of espionage, eight former Indian navy personnel were released by Qatar on Monday. Upon returning to India, the Navy veterans praised PM Modi for securing their release through sustained diplomatic efforts.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) appreciated the decision by the Amir of Qatar to enable the release and homecoming of the Indians and informed that seven of them had returned to India till now.
“We are very happy that we are back in India, safe and sound. We would definitely like to thank PM Modi, as this was only possible because of his personal intervention. and Government of Qatar His Excellency the Amir who made it possible,” one of the Navy veterans said as he came out of Delhi Airport.
“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,” said another
“We waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the PM. It wouldn’t have been possible without his personal intervention and his equation with Qatar. 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,” said another Navy personnel.
The eight 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 working for a private company, Dahra Global, in their personal capacity.
The former Navy personnel were overseeing the induction of Italian U212 stealth submarines in the Qatari Emiri Naval Force. They were arrested on August 30, 2022 in an alleged case of espionage. But the charges weren’t made public by either India or the Qatari authorities.
On October 26, 2023, they were given death sentences by Qatar’s Court of First Instance. Following a diplomatic intervention by Delhi, the Qatar court of appeals commuted the death sentence.