‘Shocked’ Delhi explores legal options after Qatar gives death sentence to 8 Indian navy veterans
The group had been accused of spying on a submarine programme on behalf of Israel.
Flags of India and Qatar (iStock)
THE Indian government has expressed deep shock after a court in Qatar has handed a death sentence to eight former personnel of the Indian Navy after detaining them for more than a year. It said it was exploring all legal options and was in touch with the families of those given the punishment.
According to reports, the group had been accused of spying on a submarine programme for Israel. Authorities in Qatar also indicated that they have electronic evidence in connection to the matter.
The military veterans were working for a private company when they were detained by officials of Qatar’s intelligence service on the basis of unspecified charges in August 2022.
Reacting to the development, India’s ministry of external affairs said, “We are deeply shocked by the verdict of 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.”
The Indian nationals had their first trial in March and Indian officials had been given consular access to them.
In April, a report by Asian News International quoting sources said that Indian agencies were providing all possible help to the detained individuals. It was also suspected that the group accused of spying may have been “framed” by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
The detained include some of India’s decorated officers who once commanded some of the country’s major warships.
Meetu Bhargava, sister of one the former officers detained in the Middle Eastern nation, had sought help from the Narendra Modi government earlier this year to bring her brother back.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on June 8, she had appealed to prime minister Modi to intervene.
“These Ex Navy officers are the pride of the nation & again I request our Hon’ble Prime Minister with folded hands that it is high time that they all are brought back to India immediately without any further delay,” read her post, tagging Modi and home minister Amit Shah and defence minister Rajnath Singh.