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8 Indian Navy veterans released from Qatar jail, chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' upon landing in New Delhi (WATCH)

Eight Indian Navy veterans who were jailed in Qatar on alleged spying charges have been released and seven of them have returned to India after an 18-month imprisonment.

8 Indian Navy veterans released from jail in Qatar, chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' upon  landing in New Delhi
First Published Feb 12, 2024, 8:29 AM IST

Early Monday morning, the Indian government announced the release of eight Indian Navy veterans who were jailed in Qatar over alleged spying charges. Seven of them have already returned to India after enduring an 18-month imprisonment in the Middle-Eastern nation. In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, the government expressed gratitude for the release of the individuals who were working for the Dahra Global company in Qatar. The ministry also commended the decision of the Amir of the State of Qatar for facilitating their release and safe return home.

The veterans, including Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh, were arrested in August and had been held in custody since then. Their arrests came amid their involvement with Dahra Global, a private firm, assisting in the introduction of Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Naval Force in personal capacities.

Initially sentenced to death by a Qatari court on October 26, 2023, India vehemently protested the verdict, describing it as deeply shocking. Following diplomatic interventions by India, the capital punishment was later commuted in December. Sources revealed that the veterans were not informed in advance about their release and were swiftly taken by embassy officials after their freedom was granted. Subsequently, they boarded an IndiGo flight and arrived back in India after 2 am.

Expressing their gratitude, the Navy veterans credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government for their efforts in securing their release. As they walked out of the Delhi airport, seven of the veterans chanted 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'.

"We are very happy that we are back in India, safely. Definitely, we would like to thank PM Modi as this was only possible because of his personal intervention," said one of the veterans.

Another added, "It wouldn't have been possible for us to stand here without the intervention of PM Modi. And it also happened due to the continuous efforts of the Government of India."

Acknowledging the prolonged wait for their return, one veteran expressed gratitude, saying, "We waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the PM. It wouldn't have been possible without his personal intervention and his equation with Qatar."

The government, in its official statement, reiterated its appreciation to the Amir of Qatar for facilitating the homecoming of the released veterans.

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