Qatar releases Indian Navy veterans: Family informed by Indian govt after men boarded flights back home

    Qatar releases Indian navy veterans | India Naby officers

    All eight former Indian Navy personnel are back in India except Commander Purnendu Tiwari. He is expected home soon.

    Family members of the eight former Indian Navy officers, arrested in connection with an alleged espionage case in 2022, were informed of their release by the Indian government late on Sunday after they had been released and boarded their flights back home.

    Of the eight, only Commander Purnendu Tiwari hasn’t returned yet, The Indian Express has learned. Although Commander Tiwari has been released from prison along with others, it’s not clear why he’s not back yet. However, Commander Tiwari too is expected to be back in India soon.

    All others landed in New Delhi early on Monday. It is learned that all eight men have been released and will be able to live freely with their families in India.

    Speaking to The Indian Express, a family member of one of the eight ex-Navy men said, “Our veterans are back. We are immensely grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his personal intervention, and also to the Emir of Qatar for agreeing to their release. We were told about their release and journey back home once they had boarded their flights late last night”.

    The Indian nationals, all employees of the Doha-based company Dahra Global, were taken into custody in August 2022. While the charges against them have not been made public by Qatari authorities, they were charged with spying for Israel, according to a report in the UK daily Financial Times.

    They were identified as 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.

    In December last year, the appellate court in Qatar commuted their death sentence to imprisonment ranging between three years and 25 years. Commander Tiwari, who held a senior leadership position at Dahra Global, was handed the harshest punishment of 25 years. Four were given 15 years in prison, two of them faced 10 years, and the only sailor among the eight men, Ragesh, received the most lenient sentence of three years.

    After the appellate court had commuted their death sentence, family members had told The Indian Express in December 2023 that they would file an appeal in the Court of Cassation, the highest court in Qatar.

    Speaking to the media in the first week of January, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson had said the legal team had been given 60 days to file an appeal. “The legal team has now received a copy of the court order, which is confidential in nature,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal had told reporters then. “Further, the legal team has been given 60 days to file an appeal in the Court of Cassation, Qatar’s highest court. Our legal team is working on this issue to decide the next course of action, and we are in touch with the families and the legal team,” he had said.

    Family members were not aware of how the government managed the release of their kin after that. “We don’t know the details of how this was made possible, just that the Emir has agreed to their release,” said another family member.

    Reacting to their release, the MEA said in a statement, “The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for 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.”


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