In a shocking turn of events, a court in Qatar gave a death sentence to eight former Indian Navy staff. This unexpected verdict, coming from the core of the Middle East, has sparked a storm of talks and diplomatic discussions.
On the 26th of October, a court in Qatar announced a death penalty verdict against eight Indians, causing waves across diplomatic circles. The Indian government was quick to express its deep shock and promised to explore all legal paths to address the verdict.
The eight individuals sentenced to death are former officers of the Indian Navy. Their names are
- Captain Navtej Singh Gill
- Captain Birendra Kumar Verma
- Captain Saurabh Vasisht
- Commander Amit Nagpal
- Commander Purnendu Tiwari
- Commander Sugunakar Pakala
- Commander Sanjeev Gupta
- Sailor Ragesh
What were these people arrested for?
The eight former navy personnel were detained in Doha, Qatar on allegations of spying, specifically related to the development of a stealth submarine, on August 8, 2022. The exact charges against them were not made public by Qatari authorities, and the specifics of the allegations remain unknown. The Court of First Instance in Qatar sentenced them to death in a decision that stunned the Indian government and the general public.
Employed in Qatar
These eight Indians were employed by a company named Al Dahra at Qatar Global Technologies and Consultancy Services in Qatar. This company helped train Qatar’s military. A retired Air Force officer from Oman, Khamis al-Ajmi, owns the company. He was also arrested by the Indians last year but was released in November 2022.
According to certain sources, some of the Indian nationals charged with the death penalty were working on a critical project. This project is intended to build small submarines with stealth features using Italian technological innovation. In May, the company stopped its work in Doha, and all the workers, mainly Indians, went back to India.
With over 800,000 Indian citizens living and working in Qatar, this ruling may have consequences for India-Qatar diplomatic relations, not to mention the controversy it may generate among the Indian overseas population in the Gulf nation.
Indian Government’s Reaction
The Indian Government, represented by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said that they were shocked by the court’s decision. They promised to help the eight people in any way they could and try to get them out of trouble. The government is talking to the families of these eight people and looking at all legal ways to help them.
The Indian government is talking to the government of Qatar to solve this problem. The Indian Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, said that they are keeping in touch with Qatar about this serious matter.
The case has stirred a public outcry in India. For instance, Meetu Bhargava, the sister of one of the imprisoned officers, made a public appeal requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to interfere in the matter, stressing the urgent need for the return of these individuals to India. The families of the veterans have filed a mercy plea with the emir of Qatar, but there has been no response from that side.