How Indian Navy veterans, released by Qatar, reacted after arriving in Delhi
Qatar frees 8 Indian Navy veterans: Relieved to walk free from jail, the seven former Navy officers raised chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at the Delhi airport.
Seven of the eight Indian Navy veterans, who were released by Qatar months after being sentenced to death on 'espionage' charges, heaped praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi after on arrival in New Delhi on Monday morning. Interacting with reporters, some of the veterans claimed that they wouldn't have been released had it for the sustained diplomatic efforts at his behest to secure their release.
Relieved to finally walk free, the seven former Indian Navy officers raised chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at the Delhi airport, reported news agency ANI.
One of the Navy veterans thanked Modi for raising their sentencing with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and attributed their release to relentless diplomatic efforts at his behest.
"I feel relieved and delighted to finally be back home safe and sound. I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi as this wouldn't have been possible had it not been for his personal intervention to secure our release. I also wish to express my gratitude to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar," he said.
Another released former naval officer told ANI, "Without the intervention of PM Modi, we would not have walked free. We wouldn't be standing before you today had it not been for his untiring efforts and interventions at the highest levels to get us freedom."
One of the veterans also praised the Indian government's intervention in securing their release, saying, “We, as well as our anxious family members back home, had been waiting for this day for a long time. It all worked out because of PM Modi and his personal intervention in the matter. He took up our case with the highest levels of the Qatari government and eventually secured our release. I don't have enough words to express my gratitude to him and the Emir of Qatar.”
"We are very happy to be back and it wouldn't have been possible had the honourable Prime Minister not taken personal interest in the matter. I also thank the Qatar Emir for his personal involvement in the matter," ANI quoted another former Indian Navy officer as saying.
"We waited almost 18 months to be back home to our loved ones in India. We are extremely grateful to PM Modi for getting us back. We wouldn't have seen this day without the joint efforts of PM Modi and the Emir of Qatar. The personal equations that the two leaders share also helped in our release," another Navy veteran said.
Earlier on Monday, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) shared about the release of eight veterans of the Indian Navy who were sentenced to death in Qatar.
Who are the 8 Indian Navy veterans?
- On December 28 last year, Qatar’s Court of Appeal commuted the death sentences awarded last October and sentenced the eight men, who were working with Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies, to prison for varying durations ranging from three years to 25 years.
- Doha-based Al Dahra Global Technologies, a private firm, provided training and other services to Qatar's armed forces and security agencies, news agency PTI reported.
- The veterans – Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh – were detained in August 2022 on undeclared charges.
- Among the eight veterans, Captain Navtej Gill was awarded the President's Gold Medal for excellence when he graduated from the Naval Academy and later served as an instructor at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu, PTI earlier reported.
- People familiar with the matter had earlier said on condition of anonymity that Purnendu Tiwari was given a 25-year prison term, while Ragesh was given a three-year sentence. Four of the former Navy officers were given 15-year prison terms and two others 10-year prison terms, they said.
- Several reports had suggested the men were accused of espionage though both Qatari and Indian authorities have not provided details of the charges against them.