8 former Indian Navy Officers Got Death Sentence in Qatar

Eight former Indian Navy Officers were arrested last year in August 2022 on the charges of allegedly spying by Qatar authorities. 

They have been convicted and given a death sentence on the allegation of spying for Israel.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has called it "shocking." The foreign ministry also said it would not comment much on the case given the "confidential nature of proceedings" but assured that it would contest the case.

The men, including decorated officers who once commanded major Indian warships, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm that provided training and related services to Qatar's armed forces. Sources said some of them were working on a highly sensitive project -- Italian technology-based midget submarines with stealth characteristics.

The men have been in jail since August 2022. Granted consular access to them, New Delhi has been working to secure their release. The men went to trial in March.

Their bail pleas were rejected numerous times and their detention was extended by Qatari authorities. Today, the Court of First Instance of Qatar passed a judgment.

Those sentenced are Capt Navtej Singh Gill, Capt Birendra Kumar Verma, Capt Saurabh Vasisht, Cdr Amit Nagpal, Cdr Purnendu Tiwari, Cdr Sugunakar Pakala, Cdr Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Rajesh.

"We are deeply shocked by the verdict of the death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgment. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"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 ministry statement read.

Meetu Bhargava, the sister of one of the former officers detained, had sought help from the government to bring her brother back.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on June 8, she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra 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, tagged to PM Modi and union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh.

The Government of India should look into the matter and request for the proceedings to be available to the public. 

It is our responsibility to provide security to all Indians residing overseas, especially those who have served the nation by joining defense forces. 

Qatar authorities should also look into the matter very closely and work with the Indian government to issue bail Anyone innocent should not be punished. 

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