New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally supervised the case of eight ex-Navy personnel on death row in Qatar, said Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Monday, hours after the country announced their release. The officer also said PM Modi never shied away from any initiatives to ensure the return of the ex-government officials.
“We are happy to have seven of those Indian nationals back. The eighth Indian national has also been released and we continue to work with the Qatar government to see how quickly his return to India would be possible,” the foreign official said.
“The prime minister has himself personally constantly supervised all the developments in this case and has never shied away from any initiatives that would ensure the return of the Indian nationals back to home,” he added.
PM Modi to visit Qatar
Soon after the announcement of the release of the Navy veterans, New Delhi announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Qatar‘s capital Doha on February 14.
“After completing his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the prime minister will travel to Doha, Qatar on February 14 afternoon,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a media briefing.
He will hold bilateral talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and other high dignitaries.
Last year, eight ex-Indian navy personnel, who were working for a private company and were detained, were handed death sentences. Neither the Indian government nor the Qatari authorities confirmed that they were held on espionage charges.
PM Modi took personal interest in securing the release of the ex-Navy personnel. In December, he met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai and discussed the “well-being of the Indian community” in Qatar.
NSA Ajit Doval reportedly also played a key role in negotiations with Qatari officials in securing the release of the Indians. He reportedly paid a number of silent visits to Doha.
PM Modi had last visited Doha in June 2016.
Before that, PM Manmohan Singh had visited Qatar in 2008.
Who were the eight Indians?
The eight Indian nationals who were held in Qatar were: Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh.
While seven of these men have returned, Commander Tiwari could not return due to some pending paperwork.
With inputs from PTI