Seven of the eight Indian Navy veterans, who were freed by a Qatar court months after being sentenced to death on “espionage” charges, praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival in New Delhi on Monday morning. . Interacting with journalists, some of the veterans stated that they would not have been released if it had not been for sustained diplomatic efforts at their behest to secure their release.
Relieved to finally walk free, the seven former Indian Navy officers chanted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at the Delhi airport, news agency ANI reported.
One of the Navy veterans thanked Modi for raising his sentence with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and attributed his release to relentless diplomatic efforts at his behest.
“I am relieved and delighted to be finally back home safe and sound. I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi as this would not have been possible had it not been for his personal intervention in securing our release. I also wish to express my gratitude. to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar,” he said.
Another freed former naval officer told ANI: “Without Prime Minister Modi’s intervention, we would not have emerged free. We would not be before you today if it had not been for his tireless efforts and interventions at the highest levels to get us freedom.”
One of the veterans also praised the Indian government’s intervention in securing their release, saying: “We, as well as our anxious relatives back home, had been waiting for this day for a long time. Everything turned out well thanks to Prime Minister Modi and his personal intervention in the matter. He took our case to the highest levels of the Qatari government and ultimately secured our release. “I do not have enough words to express my gratitude to him and the Emir of Qatar.”
“We are very happy to be back and it would not have been possible if the honorable Prime Minister had not taken personal interest in the matter. I also thank the Emir of Qatar for his personal involvement in the matter,” ANI quoted another former Navy India. official as he says.
“We waited almost 18 months to return home to our loved ones in India. We are extremely grateful to Prime Minister Modi for allowing us to return. We would not have seen this day without the joint efforts of Prime Minister Modi and the Emir of Qatar. The equations shared by the two leaders also helped in our liberation,” said another Navy veteran.
Earlier on Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reported the release of eight Indian Navy veterans who were sentenced to death in Qatar.
Who are the 8 Indian Navy veterans?
- On December 28 last year, Qatar’s Court of Appeal commuted the death sentences handed down last October and sentenced the eight men, who worked with Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies, to prison terms ranging from from three years to 25 years.
- Al Dahra Global Technologies, a private company based in Doha, provided training and other services to Qatar’s armed forces and security agencies, news agency PTI reported.
- The veterans – Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and Seaman Ragesh – were arrested in August 2022 on undeclared charges.
- Among the eight veterans, Captain Navtej Gill was awarded the President’s Gold Medal for excellence when he graduated from the Naval Academy and later served as an instructor at the Defense Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu, PTI earlier reported .
- People familiar with the matter had earlier said, on condition of anonymity, that Purnendu Tiwari was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Ragesh received a three-year sentence. Four of the former Navy officers were sentenced to 15 years in prison and two others to 10 years in prison, they said.
- Several reports suggested the men were charged with espionage, although Qatari and Indian authorities have not provided details of the charges against them.