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Updated February 12th, 2024 at 06:49 IST

Explained Dahra Global Case: How India's diplomatic prowess saved lives of 8 Navy veterans in Qatar

India's diplomatic might led to a major breakthrough in the Dahra Global case after reports emerged that the death sentences of 8 navy veterans were reduced.

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The navy veterans were sentenced to death on espionage charges. | Image:PTI
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India's diplomatic might led to a major breakthrough in the Dahra Global Case after reports emerged that the death sentences of the eight Indian navy officers was reduced to a prison sentence. On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs released a statement in which they mentioned that a court in Qatar has changed its judgement on the matter. Earlier this year, the Indian navy veterans were sentenced to death by a court in Qatar on charges of espionage. After the reports of their death sentence emerged the MEA expressed their concern over the matter and thus started the diplomatic mission to ensure that these Indian navy officers don’t face the death penalty.

"We have noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global case, in which the sentences have been reduced. The detailed judgement is awaited. We are in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps," an official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. “Our Ambassador to Qatar and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities,” it further said. It is important to note that these navy officers were first detained in 2022, however, neither Qatar nor India revealed the specifics of the charges against the men throughout the whole saga. Here’s a deep dive into what the case was all about.

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Who are the Indian Navy Veterans?

The Indian navy veterans who were involved in the case included Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar who worked for Dahra Global Technologies, a defence services provider in Qatar. These veterans were working for a defence service provider organisation — Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services. The firm was owned by a retired member of the Royal Omani Air Force and the owner of the firm was arrested along with the men in 2022. While the charges were not made public by both governments,  media reports suggested that the Navy veterans were accused of spying for Israel on Qatar's advanced submarines, which have stealth capabilities that make them harder to detect.

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How did the Indian government react?

Immediately after the report of the death penalty floated, India said that it was “deeply shocked” after the verdict and in October this year, the country filed an appeal against the court’s verdict. In light of this, India's ambassador to Qatar met the men in prison earlier this month. On Thursday, MEA noted that the Indian envoy and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal of Qatar along with the family members of the men during the hearing. It is also important to note that two days before the ambassador visited the men, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai.

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“On the sidelines of the #COP28 Summit in Dubai yesterday, had the opportunity to meet HH Sheikh @TamimBinHamad, the Amir of Qatar. We had a good conversation on the potential of bilateral partnership and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar,” PM Modi wrote on X, formally known as Twitter. While the Navy veterans will be serving prison sentences as of now, the Indian diplomatic efforts did give these veterans and their families some sort of respite. 
 

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Published December 28th, 2023 at 17:48 IST

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