In a significant diplomatic breakthrough, the Government of India has announced the release of eight Indians who were detained and sentenced to death in Qatar on reported espionage charges. The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement on Monday, expressing gratitude for the release of these individuals, seven of whom have already returned to India.
The detained individuals were former servicemen of the Indian Navy employed by Dahra Global Technologies, a defence services provider based in Qatar. The circumstances surrounding their conviction were shrouded in secrecy, with the specific charges and offenses remaining unclear. Qatar had not publicly addressed the arrest, sentencing, or subsequent release of the eight Indian citizens.
The group of eight Indians had been detained in August 2022, accused of spying for Israel, purportedly in connection with Qatar’s submarine program. The program involved the purchase of high-tech Italian-made submarines with radar-evading capabilities, on the advice of Dahra Global Technologies.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has refrained from disclosing details about the charges due to the “confidential and sensitive nature” of the case. Last October, the ministry announced the imposition of the death penalty, leading to shock and a swift response from the Indian government, which was in constant communication with the families of the detained individuals and engaging with Qatari authorities.
While consular access was granted, the ministry revealed in December that the sentences had been reduced, though specific details were not provided. The release of seven individuals marks a diplomatic victory for India and underscores the government’s commitment to a strong foreign policy.
Indians reach home
The cruciality of relations between India and Qatar bear a necessity from both sides to deal these type of issues very delicately. While the trade between two countries is significantly high, Indian diaspora make up about 25% of Qatar’s population.
More than lakhs of Indians comprise of a large proportion of Qatar’s more than 2 million strong foreign workforce – which accounts for 95% of labour in the gas-rich Gulf nation, according to UN data.
Nonetheless, 7 Indians have reached India so far with their first remark hailing the incumbent central government for their determined efforts. With due consideration, their acquittance marks a major diplomatic win for the Indian government, reinforcing its claim of a undeterred and strong foreign policy, just before the upcoming general elections.