PM Modi's Qatar visit announced as 8 jailed Indian nationals freed by Doha

In a major diplomatic win for New Delhi, Qatar released eight former Indian Navy veterans who were jailed on charges of espionage. Seven of them returned to India on Monday

Modi, PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)

Nisha Anand New Delhi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a visit to Qatar's Doha on Wednesday, an announcement which followed on Monday, hours after seven jailed former Indian Navy personnel returned to India.

In a significant diplomatic win for New Delhi, Qatar released eight former Indian Navy veterans who were jailed there on charges of espionage. The relief came after nearly three-and-half months since the row began in October when a Qatari court gave the personnel a death sentence.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra informed about Modi's trip during a media briefing.?

Seven personnel return to India

Seven of them returned to India on Monday morning. The foreign secretary said that efforts are underway to ensure the early return of the eighth Indian.

He also noted that PM Modi constantly supervised all the developments in the case. His Qatar trip will follow after the two-day trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he will inaugurate the largest Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.

What was Qatar's case against eight Indians?

Earlier today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) appreciated the decision by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to enable the release of the Indians.

The eight former navy men faced espionage charges. However, neither Qatar nor India made the charges against them public.

The eight Indians were working for a Doha-based company named Dahra Global company. The firm provided training and other services to Qatar's armed forces and security agencies.

The eight nationals are: Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh. They were arrested in August 2022.

Ajit Doval instrumental in rescue op

India had expressed "deep shock" when the nationals were given a death sentence on October 26 by Qatar's Court of First Instance. After India appealed the decision, Qatar's Court of Appeal, on December 28, commuted the capital punishment and sentenced the veterans to jail terms for varying durations.

Notably, PM Modi had also met Qatari Emir on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai in December.

It is said that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had an instrumental role in securing the release of the nationals.

(With PTI inputs)

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First Published: Feb 12 2024 | 6:23 PM IST

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