Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during the COP28 Summit, in UAE on December 1, 2023. (X/@narendramodi)
The release and return of the eight Indian Navy veterans, who were jailed in Qatar on spying charges, is being seen as a big diplomatic win for India which used both official and the back channels to achieve the release. PM Narendra Modi had met the Emir of Qatar on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai on December 1
The meeting in Dubai between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamim Bin Hamad, the Emir of Qatar, on December 1 last year is said to have set the ball rolling for the release of eight Indian Navy veterans by Qatar on Monday. Seven of them returned home on Monday, and all of them said it would not have been possible without Modi’s intervention on the issue with Qatar.
This is being seen as a big diplomatic win for India which used both official and the back channels to achieve the release. Modi had met the Emir of Qatar on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai on December 1.
“We had a good conversation on the potential of bilateral partnership and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar,” the PM had said about the meeting.
The issue of the eight jailed Indian Navy veterans in Qatar is said to have featured in the conversation that PM Modi had with the Emir of Qatar, though it has not been officially confirmed by either of the countries so far.
Things moved positively since that meeting as the Indian Ambassador in Qatar got consular access to the veterans on December 3, and the court overturned the death sentence to the veterans on December 28. Their release was announced on Monday. Earlier, on October 26 last year, the Qatar’s court of First Instance had issued them a death sentence before hearings began in a Court of Appeal.
India described the ruling as “deeply” shocking and vowed to explore all legal options in the case. In November this year, the appeals filed by the veterans with assistance from India were accepted by the Court of Appeal in Qatar, and a key hearing had taken place on the Court of Appeals on December 7.
India extended constant legal and consular access to Navy veterans and the foreign ministry reiterated on many occasions that it had attached “high importance” to the case. The Indian nationals, all employees of Al Dahra company and Navy veterans, were taken into custody in August last year in an alleged case of espionage. This led to many in the Opposition taking potshots at the Modi government, and also ask for their release.
India, while welcoming the release of the eight Indian nationals, said it appreciates the decision by the Emir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of the Navy veterans.