Experts hail Indian diplomacy after release of 8 Navy veterans by Qatar

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced early Monday morning the release of the Indian nationals who were detained in Qatar.

New Delhi: International affairs experts have hailed Indian diplomacy after its major triumph helped secure the release of eight Indian Navy veterans who were detained by Qatar on espionage charges.

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Former diplomat Anil Trigunayat said the release of Indian Navy veterans was made possible by continued diplomacy, tremendous goodwill between the two nations as well as due to the friendship between Emir of Qatar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Well, it is a matter of great satisfaction that due process was followed and great regard for the bilateral relationship, which is really a great partnership, in terms of energy security, diaspora security between India and Qatar. I am very happy that all these have prevailed and the Indian Navy personnel have returned home,” Trigunayat said in a video message.

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“Apart from the continued pursuit of diplomacy, the legal process, the tremendous goodwill between the two countries, and above all, the great friendship between the Emir of Qatar, and Prime Minister Modi,” he added.

He further said that this development came at a time when the India-Qatar relationship is on a new trajectory with new agreements and opportunities being explored.

“India has always respected the law of the land and will continue to do so. Qatar has also appreciated the strength and potential of our present-day opportunity, diplomacy, goodwill, and larger canvas. This decision, again comes at a time, when the relationship is on a new trajectory. New agreements are being signed, new opportunities are being explored between the two countries and also India-GCC context,” the former diplomat added.

Foreign Affairs expert, Michael Kugelman also heaped praises on the release of Indian personnel and said that it a “major diplomatic feat.”

“A remarkable development that the 8 Indian ex-naval officers on death row in Qatar, reportedly for spying for Israel, have now been released and all but 1 are back in India. That’s a major diplomatic feat to get that result for your citizens held abroad on such serious charges,” Kugelman posted on X.

Earlier, the navy veterans after setting foot in their homeland after months of captivity, heaped praises on PM Modi, saying they wouldn’t have been freed had it for the sustained diplomatic efforts at his behest to secure their release.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced early Monday morning the release of the Indian nationals who were detained in Qatar.

“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 homecoming of these nationals,” MEA said in a statement.

The 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 detained in August 2022.

Amid desperate pleas by the anxious kin of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilise all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.

On December 28, 2023, Qatar’s Court of Appeal commuted the death penalty awarded to all eight men in October 2023.

The eight Indian nationals were imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the “well-being of the Indian community” living in Qatar.

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