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DNA Exclusive: Indias Diplomatic Triumph In Securing Release Of Navy Personnel From Qatar

New Delhi: Former Indian Navy personnel who were detained in Qatar landed at the Delhi airport on Monday morning and lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal intervention in their case, for which they were once sentenced to death penalties.

In today’s DNA, Zee News anchor Sourabh Raaj Jain analyzed the diplomatic supremacy of the Modi government, which resulted in the release of the eight navy personnel from jail in Qatar.

The arrest of eight Indians in Qatar on August 30, 2022, came as a significant shock to India. The Indian Embassy in Doha received news of the arrest through family members, which prompted the Ministry of External Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the National Security Advisor Secretariat to take immediate action. Additionally, the Defense Ministry and Naval Headquarters became actively involved.

Efforts were made to address the situation diplomatically, considering its sensitivity. The initial focus was on providing consular access to the detained individuals and ensuring the supply of necessary medicines for those who were ill. However, during this period, India faced challenges as the Qatar government did not close the case or offer any relief, including bail, for the Indians.

In October 2023, the situation gained momentum when Dr. Mitu Bhargava, sister of Commander Purnendu Tiwari, raised the matter on social media. In November 2022, India’s Ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary.

Efforts continued, including facilitating meetings between family members and regular phone calls with the imprisoned Indians. In December 2022, consular access was gained for the second time, and arrangements were made for visas for family members to visit the detained individuals.

However, relief efforts faced setbacks when the Qatar government extended the custody of the imprisoned Indians and rejected bail petitions filed in January 2023. In March 2023, Qatar initiated legal proceedings against the eight Indians, escalating tensions.

In August 2023, Vipul, a seasoned IFS officer with extensive experience in Gulf countries, was appointed as Ambassador to Qatar. The situation took a dire turn on October 26, 2023, when the Qatar court sentenced the eight Indians to death.

Subsequently, a comprehensive strategy was developed, emphasizing management at every level, with directives from the Prime Minister’s office. Law and diplomacy were explored extensively. Foreign Minister Jaishankar met with the families of the detained Indians on October 30, 2023, assuring them of the government’s commitment to securing their return. The families were advised to rely on silent diplomacy and refrain from media statements.

The government changed the legal representation company in Qatar and pursued an appeal against the court’s decision, adopting a revised strategy to address the situation effectively.

On December 28, the court delayed the imposition of the death penalty and instead handed down a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Despite the commuting of the death sentence to imprisonment, the Indian Government pursued fresh appeals in various courts. However, India pinned its hopes on the ‘Emir of Qatar’, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as he held the authority to grant pardons. Notably, during the COP-28 meeting in Dubai on December 1, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Emir Al Thani. It was speculated that during this encounter, Prime Minister Modi raised the case of the eight former marines.

The release of the ex-marines stranded in another country wouldn’t have been achievable without the direct involvement of the Prime Minister.

It is now believed that this meeting had a significant impact. Reports suggest that following the intervention of the Emir of Qatar, on the night of February 11, the Indian former marines were transferred from jail in Qatar to the Indian Embassy. Subsequently, they were promptly repatriated to India.

This action by Qatar is perceived as a reflection of India’s strong position in global politics. Experts assert that Qatar recognizes India’s increasing influence and, perhaps for this reason, is keen to maintain its cordial relations with India.

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