The release of eight Indian Navy veterans from jail in Qatar is a big diplomatic success for India. All the eight former Navy men were sentenced to death by a Qatar court, but after the Indian government intervened, it was later commuted to imprisonment. On early Monday morning, seven out of the eight ex-Navy men arrived in India, while Commander Purnendu Tiwari is still in Qatar after release. His return was delayed because of some legal formalities which are to be completed. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra thanked the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Kwatra said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally supervised the developments in this case and he undertook initiative in securing the release of the veterans.
The seven ex-Navy men who returned are Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vashisht, Amit Nagpal, S K Gupta, V K Verma and Sugunakara Pakala and ex-sailor Ragesh. All of them were working for a now-defunct Qatar company Al Dahra Global and were facing espionage charges. They were arrested in August, 2022 and spent 18 months in jail. A court in Qatar handed them death sentence in October last year, while a higher court, two months later, upheld the conviction but reduced the death sentence to imprisonment. On their return to India, all the former Navy men said, their release would not have been possible without the personal intervention of Prime Minister Modi. Looking at the espionage charges against our former Navy men and the capital punishment given to them based on facts and evidence, it was a great success for India in ensuring that all of them returned safely. None else except Narendra Modi could have achieved this impossible objective. Modi’s personal relationship with the Emir of Qatar came in handy.
India’s image across the world has risen several notches higher in the last several years. It is reflected in the release of our ex-Navy men. Modi will be visiting Qatar on Wednesday to thank the Emir for this humanitarian act. It is also a slap in the face of those who were challenging Modi’s standing in the Middle East after the Qatar court gave the death sentence. These naysayers were trying to incite the feelings of the people, but now they have been effectively silenced.
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