In Qatar, eight former Indian Navy personnel have received the death penalty, a move described as “shocking” by the foreign ministry. The ministry, citing the “confidential nature of proceedings,” refrained from providing further comments but emphasized its intention to challenge the judgment.

The individuals, some of whom were decorated officers with prior command of significant Indian warships, were employed by Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private company offering training and related services to Qatar’s armed forces. Reports suggest that several of them were involved in a sensitive project focused on Italian technology-based midget submarines with stealth features, and they stand accused of espionage.

These individuals have been in custody since August 2022, and New Delhi has been actively working to secure their release, providing them with consular access. Their trial began in March, during which their requests for bail were repeatedly denied, and their detention was extended by Qatari authorities. The Court of First Instance in Qatar rendered its judgment today.

The individuals receiving the sentences 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 Ragesh.

The foreign ministry expressed profound shock at the imposition of the death penalty and is awaiting the detailed judgment. The ministry is in contact with the families and legal representatives of the affected individuals and is exploring all available 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,” stated the ministry.

Meetu Bhargava, the sister of one of the detained former officers, had previously appealed to the Indian government for assistance in bringing her brother back. In a post on social media, she appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other key ministers to facilitate the prompt return of the ex-Navy officers to India.

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