The Government of India has announced the release of eight Indian Navy veterans who were detained in Qatar over alleged spying charges. Seven of them have returned to India after spending 18 months in jail in the Middle Eastern country.
In a statement, the foreign ministry expressed gratitude to the Amir of the State of Qatar for facilitating the release and repatriation of the Indian nationals. The veterans were employed by Dahra Global and were in Qatar to assist with the introduction of Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force.
The veterans, including 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 arrested in August 2022 and had been in jail since.
Initially sentenced to death by a Qatari court on October 26, 2023, their capital punishment was commuted in December, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during the COP28 summit in Dubai.
Expressing their gratitude upon their return, the veterans thanked PM Modi and the government for securing their release. One of them stated, “We are very happy that we are back in India, safely. Definitely, we would like to thank PM Modi as this was only possible because of his personal intervention.”
Another veteran added, “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.”