RNS: Qatar has released eight Indian Navy veterans who were sentenced to death on espionage charges. Seven of the eight Indian Navy personnel, released by the Qatar government more than three months after they were convicted with death sentences on charges of espionage, returned to India on Monday.
The eighth veteran is still in Doha, awaiting completion of official formalities, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
The released individuals include Captains Navtej Singh Gill, Saurabh Vashisht, Purenendu Tiwari, Birendra Kumar Verma, Sugunakar Pakala, Sanjeev Gupta, Amit Nagpal, and Ragesh, all of whom served distinguished careers spanning two decades in the Indian Navy.
According to sources within the military, these former naval officers held pivotal roles, including instructional positions, and maintained impeccable service records throughout their tenure. Captain Gill, for instance, was honored with the President’s Gold Medal for his outstanding contributions, having also served as an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.
The announcement of their release comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Doha on February 14, following his recent two-day trip to the UAE. The timing of Modi’s visit coincides closely with Qatar’s decision to grant clemency to the eight former naval personnel, underscoring the diplomatic significance of the gesture.
In response to questions during a press conference on Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra commended Qatar for its actions, stating, “We deeply appreciate it.” He further revealed that Prime Minister Modi had personally overseen efforts to secure the release of the Indian nationals.
Regarding the delay in the return of the eighth ex-naval officer, sources attributed it to the individual’s prolonged stay in Qatar, which presented various logistical challenges that needed to be addressed before his repatriation could be facilitated.