• Friday, December 01, 2023


‘They could never spy’: Families of Indian Navy veterans on death row in Qatar

They went to build the Qatari navy and build that Middle Eastern nation’s security, the families added.

Flags of India and Qatar (iStock)

By: Shubham Ghosh

SPENDING days in deep anxiety, families of eight former personnel of the Indian Navy who have been sentenced to death by a court in Qatar last week have denied that the men had anything to do with spying and claimed that there has been little “proof of allegations” from the Middle Eastern nation.

The veterans, who had commanded Indian warships in the past, worked for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm in Qatar that provided training and other services to the country’s armed forces. They were arrested last year.

While the details of the verdict that came out on October 26 were still not clear, reports suggested that they were convicted of spying for Israel on a submarine project.

The families of the eight officials denied the allegations in a statement to India’s NDTV.

“The eight ex-Indian Naval officers were not engaged in espionage for Israel. They went to build the Qatari navy and build that nation’s security. They could never spy. There are no allegations or proof of allegations from Qatar,” the statement read. It added that none of them were associated with any submarine programme when working at the company.

The statement also pointed at the veterans’ record saying all of them had distinguished service with full integrity and represented the nation with high honour while serving in its navy.

The Indian government initially said it was “deeply shocked” by the verdict and that it was working with Doha to free the veterans.

On Monday (30), India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met the kin of the former navy officials and said he shared their pain.

In a post on X, he said, “Met this morning with the families of the 8 Indians detained in Qatar. Stressed that Government attaches the highest importance to the case. Fully share the concerns and pain of the families. Underlined that Government will continue to make all efforts to secure their release. Will coordinate closely with the families in that regard.”

Indian Navy chief Admiral Hari Kumar had also said that New Delhi was making every effort to secure the veterans’ release.

The worried families also sought Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s “personal intervention” to bring the eight Indians back home, saying there was a shortage of time.

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