Qatar frees 8 Indian Navy veterans after 18 months: A timeline of case

Qatar released eight former Indian Navy personnel who were detained in the Gulf country in an alleged case of espionage on Monday, marking a major diplomatic victory for India. All eight veterans, except one, reached New Delhi on Monday morning, ending 18 months of legal battles and diplomatic efforts.

The eight Indian Navy officials incarcerated in Qatar are: Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, and Sailor Ragesh.

A significant development in the case occurred in December 2023 when a Qatari court reversed the death penalty imposed on the former navy men in the Al Dahra Global case.

Here’s a timeline of key events in the case:

  • August 2022: Qatar’s intelligence agency arrested the Indian nationals from Doha, who worked with a private company, Al Dahra, in an alleged case of espionage. No charges were made against them publicly by Qatar or India.
  • October 2022: The Qatari authorities accused them of spying on a submarine, and they were jailed in the same month.
  • March 2023: The trial of the navy veterans began under Qatari law. Charges were filed against them.
  • October 2023: Qatar’s Court of First Instance sentenced the eight men to death. The central government, expressing “deep shock,” affirmed that it would provide all consular and legal assistance and explore all possible options to rescue the veterans.
  • November 2023: the Indian government filed an appeal against the death sentence at a higher court in Qatar.
  • November 16: External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi announced that the appeal process was progressing and stated that the government expected a “positive outcome” from Qatar.
  • November 26: The Qatari court accepted India’s appeal against the death penalty, mentioning that they were studying the matter.
  • December 2023: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai on December 1. It is believed that this interaction may have prompted a change of position among the Qatari authorities on the death sentence case.
  • December 3: Just two days after PM Modi and Al Thani met, the Indian ambassador to Qatar, Vipul, got the first consular access to meet the eight Indians in prison.
  • December 28: An appellate court in Qatar commuted the death sentence of eight Indian veterans and reduced the punishment to jail terms.
  • February 12, 2024: All eight veterans of the Indian Navy were released by Doha, and seven of them returned to India.

Published On:

Feb 12, 2024

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