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India on Edge: Hope Surges in Qatar’s Navy Appeal

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Doha: India is optimistic about a favourable resolution to the appeal filed by the families of eight former Indian Navy personnel sentenced to death by a Qatari court.

The personnel, including decorated officers, were detained for over a year on undisclosed charges, reportedly related to espionage. The death sentences were pronounced on October 26, with both nations remaining tight-lipped about the charges.

The officers, working for Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services in Qatar since August 2022, were primarily involved in providing training and services to Qatari armed forces and security agencies.

Photo: Ministry of External Affairs, India 2022

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in a media briefing, highlighted the ongoing legal process, confirming the appeal in Qatar’s Court of Appeal. Bagchi emphasized India’s engagement with Qatari authorities and expressed hope for a “positive outcome.” The sensitivity of the case prompted Bagchi to discourage speculation, citing the confidentiality of the Qatari judgment.

Last month, expressing deep shock over the death penalty verdict, the MEA had stated, “We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, exploring all legal options.”

Now, amid possible resolutions, India is exploring avenues under a 2015 agreement with Qatar for the transfer of convicted prisoners. Other options include appeals to the International Court of Justice and seeking a pardon from the emir of Qatar. The families have already submitted a mercy petition, and India’s external affairs minister has assured the government’s commitment to securing their release.

This case sheds light on a broader issue, as Gulf countries house over half of Indian prisoners abroad. According to MEA data, 8,441 Indians, including women, are held in foreign jails for various offenses, with 4,389 in Gulf countries alone. The UAE hosts the highest number of Indian convicts abroad, totaling 1,858, followed by Nepal with 1,222.

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