Qatar Sentences Eight Indian Navy Personnel to Death, India Seeks Answers

In a shocking and deeply concerning development, eight former Indian Navy personnel who were arrested by Qatari authorities in August of last year have been sentenced to death. The Ministry of External Affairs of India responded to this grim news by expressing its shock over the verdict and announcing its intent to take up the matter with Qatari authorities.

The officers’ arrests and subsequent sentencing are shrouded in mystery, as the charges against them have not been publicly disclosed. In an official statement, the Ministry of External Affairs stated, “We are deeply shocked by the verdict of 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 statement further emphasized the high importance attached to this case and the Indian government’s commitment to providing consular and legal assistance to the detained personnel. India also affirmed its intention to engage with Qatari authorities regarding this matter.

The first hearing in the trial of these individuals was held on March 29, but the nature of the accusations against them remains undisclosed. Even family members of the detainees have not been informed of the formal charges, either by Qatari authorities or by Indian officials who have had consular access with the prisoners.

The arrested personnel were apprehended by the State Security Bureau, the Qatari intelligence agency, on the night of August 30, 2022. The Indian Embassy was made aware of the arrests in mid-September. Consular access was granted to the detainees on October 3, over a month after their arrest. Since then, they have been allowed weekly phone calls to family members.

The eight Navy veterans, named as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purenendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh, were employed by Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a defense services provider company owned by an Omani national, who is a retired squadron leader of the Royal Omani Air Force. Notably, this Omani national was arrested alongside the eight Indians but was released in November.

The situation remains shrouded in secrecy, raising concerns about the well-being and legal rights of the detained individuals. India’s efforts to secure their expeditious release and uncover the nature of the charges against them remain ongoing.