8 Former Indian Navy Officers Sentenced to Death in Qatar | India – Qatar Latest News
Indian Navy Officer Sentenced Death : Jai Hind and welcome all Defense Aspirants in this blog. In the last 36 hours, you all must have seen or heard the news of 8 Indian Navy Personnel getting death sentence in Qatar on different news channels. But do you know the backstory behind it? Who are these 8 Navy Personnel? Why was he given death sentence? What were these Navy Personnel doing in Qatar? What are the allegations against these officers in this case of Qatar? And what response has the External Affairs Ministry given in this case?
Being a Defense Aspirant, you should know everything Real & Truth about this. In this blog, Let’s know all the details on this issue so that you can get complete information about this event.
When this All Started ?
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This case started in August 2022 when news came that Qatar Police had arrested 8 personnel of the Indian Navy in a case of espionage. After 1 year, on Last Thurs
day, 26 October, the court pronounced the verdict in this case and these Former Navy Personnel were sentenced to death sentence.
Who are these Indian Navy Personnel’s ?
These former Indian Navy officers in the custody of Qatar Authorities have been identified as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vashishtha, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.
- Captain Navtej Gill (Retd) – Captain Gill hails from Chandigarh and is the son of a retired Army Officer. As a cadet he was awarded the President’s Gold Medal and also served at the Defense Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington. He was posted as a Navigating Officer on India’s second Aircraft Carrier – INS VIRAT, which was decommissioned in 2017. He also commanded INS Prabal, an advanced missile corvette best known for its role in the bombing of Karachi Port during the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
- Commander Sugunakar Pakala (Retd) – An alumnus of Sainik School, Korukonda, Commander Pakala’s parents were both teachers. He was an engineering officer in the Navy who made the unique record of crossing the Equator twice on the 500 ton ship INS Tarangini. He also received Commendation from the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C). After retiring from the Navy, he worked for some time at Hindustan Shipyard Limited in Visakhapatnam.
- Captain Saurabh Vashisht (Retd) – An engineering officer in the Navy, Captain Vashisht received the Commendation from the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) twice. He has also done courses from Defense Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington as well as College of Defense Management in Secunderabad. He was the Command Refit Officer in the Southern Naval Command and has served on INS Magar, INS Kulish, INS Khanjar and Indian Coast Guard Ship Sangram.
- Commander Purnendu Tiwari (Retd) – A navigation specialist in the Executive Branch of the Navy, Commander Tiwari commanded INS Magar and was the fleet navigating officer of the Navy’s Eastern Fleet. He has also served on Rajput class destroyers. After retirement, he trained Singaporean marines before moving to Qatar. He was the first Armed Forces veteran to receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. He was awarded this honor by the then President Ramnath Kovind in 2019. Before his arrest last year, he was training Qatar Navy personnel.
- Captain BK Verma (Retd) – Captain Verma was a navigation specialist and served on the Godavari class ship. He was also a topper in the Staff College course.
- Commander Amit Nagpal (Retd) – This former naval officer was a Communication Specialist in the Indian Navy.
- Commander SK Gupta (Retd) – This former naval officer was a specialist in gunnery.
- Ragesh – He was a sailor in the Navy. He is the only non-commissioned officer involved in the current situation.
What were these Navy Personnel doing in Qatar?
He was working for Al-Dahra Global Technologies & Consultancies Services which is a Private Defense Security and this firm used to provide training and other services to the Armed Forces of Qatar and the ownership of this firm is with the citizen of Oman country. He was also arrested along with eight Indians, but was released in November 2022. According to the report of Al Jazeera Newspaper, this company was closed in May 2023.
This company employed about 75 Indian citizens, most of whom were former Navy Officers. Commander Retired Purnendu Tiwari, who is among the arrested Indians, served as the Managing Director of Al Dahra and commanded several warships during his service period in the Indian Navy. In 2019, he was honored with the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award by former President of India Ramnath Kovind.
For what reason did Qatar Authorities arrested Navy Personnel’s ?
After months of detention, Qatari Authorities revealed that these 8 former Navy Personnel were spying on Qatar’s Secretive Submarine Program for Israel. According to local media reports, these arrests were based on suspicion of leaking sensitive and confidential information to Israel.
Timeline of Events :-
On August 30, 2022, 8 former Navy Personnel were arrested by Qatar’s intelligence agency i.e. State Security Bureau. He was detained without charge at the time, with later media reports stating that he had been charged with espionage. According to the Indian Express report, Personnel was allowed to talk to his family members in late September while in custody.
In September 2022, a month after being detained and placed in Solitary Confinement, the first bail plea of the jailed officers was held. This bail plea was rejected and later many bail pleas were rejected.
In November 2022, families of Former Navy Personnel got a chance to interact with India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal at the ‘Meet the Ambassador Open House’ session organized by the Indian Embassy in DOHA. The Indian Embassy in Doha had earlier issued a circular saying that they would be ready to redress any urgent consular issues or complaints of Indian citizens in Qatar and till now 8 former Navy Personnel have been arrested by the State Security Bureau. It had been three months since I left. In January 2023, India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met the Arrested Former Navy Personnel. During the Third Consular Access, Ambassador Mittal assured them that they would soon be able to return to their families.
The first hearing of the case took place on 29 March 2023, in which the appointed defense lawyer was also present in this case. The second trial of the case was conducted in June 2023. Qatar granted consular access to three arrested former Navy personnel. This year again on October 1, India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met the Arrested Personnel after getting consular access.
In the 7th & Last Trial conducted on 26 October, Navy Personnel were awarded death sentence.
However, till now both the parties have maintained secrecy on this case considering its sensitivity.
What did the Indian External Affairs Ministry said on this ?
The Foreign Ministry expressed surprise at the sentence and said it was awaiting a detailed verdict in the case. MEA said in its statement that “We have initial information that the Court of First Instance of Qatar has today passed a judgment in the case involving 8 Indian employees of Al Dahra company. 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. 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. Due to the confidential nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture.”
Mr. Jai Shankar Statement :
Foreign Minister S JaiShankar had informed the Rajya Sabha last year that the Indian side is in constant touch with the Qatar Government, as he had assured that Navy personnel are a priority for the country as well. “This is a very sensitive case. Their interests are paramount in our minds. The Ambassador and senior officials are in constant touch with the Government of Qatar. We assure you, they are our priority.” Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan informed the Lok Sabha this year that the amount spent by the Government of India on this case has increased from Rs 7.4 lakh in 2022 to Rs 8.41 crore in June 2023.
High Stakes on India- Qatar Relations
Former Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepa Gopalan highlighted the important role played by the large Indian diaspora in promoting India-Qatar relations. “This decision could have a very adverse impact on relations between the two countries. There are over seven lakh Indians in Qatar and we have close economic ties. The Government of India is no doubt monitoring the matter closely, but this will need to be raised at the highest level to ensure that their lives are saved.”