Qatar, October 30, 2023: A court in Qatar handed down the death penalty to eight former Indian Navy personnel who were arrested in connection with an alleged espionage case. The detentions were based on suspicion of leaking sensitive and confidential information to Israel. India has called the ruling “deeply shocking” and stated that it is exploring all “legal options.”
A company called Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services employed the former Navy officers, providing training, and other services to the Qatari Emiri Navy. They had been in custody since August 2022 and were reportedly working on a submarine project for the Qatari authorities.
The incident came into the spotlight in 2022 after a tweet from a user with the handle @DrMeetuBhargava, who had 310 followers, revealed that the veterans had been in “illegal custody” in Doha for 57 days.
The company described itself as a “local business partner” of Qatar's defence, security, and other governmental operations. The owner of the company, Khamis al-Ajmi, an Omani national and a retired officer of the Royal Oman Air Force, was also arrested but was released soon after.
The charges against the Indian nationals had not been made public by the Qatari authorities. The eight former Indian Navy personnel detained in Qatar are as follows:
1. Captain Navtej Singh
2. Gill Captain Birendra Kumar Verma
3. Captain Saurabh Vasisht
4. Commander Amit Nagpal
5. Commander Purnendu Tiwari
6. Commander Sugunakar Pakala
7. Sanjeev Gupta
8. Sailor Ragesh.
Among the eight detained officers was Commander (retired) Purnendu Tiwari, an Indian emigrant who received the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award in 2019 from then President Ram Nath Kovind.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement, saying, “We have initial information that the Court of First Instance of Qatar has today passed a judgement in the case involving 8 Indian employees of Al Dahra company. We are deeply shocked by the verdict of the death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgement. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options. We attach high importance to this case and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities. Due to the confidential nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture”.
Edited by: Sri Soudamini Konka
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