Eight Indian Navy veterans jailed in Qatar over alleged spying charges have been released, the government said early this morning. Seven of them are already back in India after an 18-month jail stay in the Middle-East country.
“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 Foreign Ministry said.
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 and had been in jail since.
They were employed by a private firm, Dahra Global, and were in Qatar to assist with the introduction of Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force in their personal roles.
A Qatari court sentenced them to death on October 26, 2023. India had said it was “deeply shocked” by the verdict and that it was exploring all legal options.
The capital punishment 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 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,” said one of them.
“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.