Ability of Modi government to protect citizens at any cost: Anurag Thakur

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Union Minister Anurag Thakur briefs the media on Cabinet decisions at National Media Centre, in New Delhi

Union Minister Anurag Thakur

New Delhi: Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday welcomed the release of eight Navy veterans who were facing death row in Qatar and said it strengthened the belief in seriousness and the ability of the Modi government to protect its citizens at any cost.

Qatar released eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel nearly three-and-a-half months after they were handed down death sentences in a case of suspected espionage.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said seven of them returned to India in the early hours of Monday.

"This homecoming of our Navy veterans is a moment of happiness and this further strengthens our belief in the seriousness and ability of the Modi government to protect its citizens at any cost," Thakur said on X.

"Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi means the guarantee of life, limb and liberty of the people of India across the globe," he said, adding that the veterans were detained "under some false charges".

The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentences by Qatar's Court of First Instance.

The Court of Appeal in Qatar on December 28 commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations.

The Indian nationals, who worked with the private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August 2022 reportedly in an alleged case of espionage.

Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.

The charges were filed against the eight Indian Navy veterans on March 25 last year and they were tried under Qatari law.

After the Court of Appeal commuted the death sentence, the Indian nationals were given 60 days to appeal against the order of their jail terms.

In May last year, Al-Dhara Global closed its operations in Doha and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.