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7 Indian Navy Officers in Qatar Safely Return Home

On Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs announced that seven of the eight former Indian Navy Officers in Qatar have been released who had received death sentences three months earlier. Qatar returned these officers to India.

We welcome the Amir of the State of Qatar’s decision to allow the release and return of these people,” the MEA statement said.

Early Monday morning, seven sailors returned to India, but Commander Purnendu Tiwari, whose death sentence was mitigated but still faces the heaviest punishment of a 25-year life sentence, has yet to return. Authorities anticipate his arrival in India soon.

Indian Navy Officers in Qatar

The death sentences of eight former Indian Navy Officers in Qatar were remitted by a Qatari appellate court in December last year.

The Indian nationals, all employees of Doha-based Dahra Global, were arrested in August 2022. Qatari authorities did not make the charges regarding them public. According to the Financial Times, they have been charged with spying for Israel.

Qatar says that these officers carried out espionage against the kingdom’s top-secret submarine program. As a result, Qatar is acquiring high-tech submarines built in Italy. The next hearing in the officers’ case is set for May. In 2020, Qatar signed an agreement with an Italian shipbuilding company to deliver high-tech submarines.

Qatar has reported that Indian Navy officers have passed on submarine information to Israel. Indian officials attempted to persuade their Qatari counterparts that Indian Navy Officers in Qatar were not engaged in any military operations against Doha.

According to the report, Qatar’s high-tech submarine development affects India and Israel. India is concerned that Pakistan may seek stealth technology in new submarines to deploy against it due to Qatar’s maintenance of close connections with Pakistan. Israel, in particular, fears that its Arab rivals could obtain advanced technology, potentially eroding Israel’s military superiority over them.

The eight former Indian Navy Officers in Qatar names are Purnendu Tiwari, Navtej Singh Gill, Birendra Kumar Verma, Sugunakar Pakala, Sanjeev Gupta, Amit Nagpal, Rajesh Gopakumar, and Saurab Vasisht. Qatar enlisted the imprisoned military officers to provide training for the Qatari Navy. In 2019, the Indian Navy awarded Purnendu Tiwari, a naval officer, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.

In early December, the Indian envoy in Doha first met the eight former Indian Navy men sentenced to death since October.

After meeting on the sidelines of the COP28 session in Dubai on December 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani granted consular access to the Indian envoy and then commuted the sentence.

The two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation and the ‘well-being of the Indian community’ in Qatar, which observers interpreted as a euphemism for discussing the situation of the eight former Indian Navy Officers in Qatar on death row.

FAQs: Indian Navy Officers in Qatar

What happened to the Indian Navy officers in Qatar?

In August 2022, eight former Indian Navy officers working in Qatar were arrested by Qatari authorities. The exact charges were never made public, but media reports speculated about “spying for Israel.”

What was the outcome Qatar death penalty for Indian Navy officers?

Following a lengthy diplomatic and judicial process, the charges against the officers were commuted in December 2023. All eight were eventually released and returned to India in February 2024.

Why were Indian Navy Officers working in Qatar?

The former officers were reportedly employed by a private security company in Qatar that offered training and services to Qatari defense forces.

Can Indian Navy Officers return to the Indian Navy?

As they were no longer serving officers at the time of the arrest, it’s unclear if they would be eligible to rejoin the Indian Navy. This would depend on the specific circumstances of their departure and the final outcome of the Qatari case.

Abhinay Parmar

Thakur Abhinay Parmar explores tech, explaining gadgets, software, and innovations, helping readers navigate the digital world's changes and stay up-to-date with the latestĀ advancements.

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