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PM Modi’s points man NSA Ajit Doval delivers, 8 ex-Navy officers freed by Qatar

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal relationship with the Emir of Qatar and behind-the-scenes diplomacy by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval ensured that the eight former Indian Navy personnel were released from custody.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

While the diplomatic front was handled by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, the delicate negotiations for the release of ex-Navy personnel were conducted by NSA Doval at the advice of PM Modi. NSA Doval made a number of quiet trips to Doha with the conviction that the Qatari leadership would understand the Indian point of view.

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A Qatari court sentenced the veterans to death in October in a case that “shocked” India’s government. The Qatar government didn’t disclose the charges the former Navy officers faced, but reports claimed that they were accused of espionage. In December, the court reduced their sentences, although no details were available at the time.

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PM Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the “well-being of the Indian community” living in Qatar.

Last month, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs Randhir Jaiswal said the temporal significance of this period, stating, “As far as the issue is concerned, there is a time of 60 days when this issue can be appealed in the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in Qatar.”

The MEA’s legal team possesses the confidential court order detailing the commutation of the death sentences to imprisonment terms, a move revealed in a press release following the court of appeal’s judgment on December 28.

Also Read | Who are 8 Indian Navy veterans freed by Qatar court? Why it’s India’s big diplomatic win?

“We issued a press release in which we informed you that the death sentence, which was originally a death penalty, has been changed to imprisonment sentences. Now our legal team has that court order, and I can confirm that all of them have received sentences of different durations, and the death penalty has been abolished,” Jaiswal had said.

The MEA spokesperson also highlighted the recent meeting that took place between PM Modi and Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad and said that they have had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship.

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