Sister of ex-Navy officer released by Qatar expresses happiness, thanks Modi govt

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Seven out of the eight Indian ex-Navy veterans return to India. Powered By VDO.AI Video Player is loading. PlayUnmute Fullscreen

Seven out of the eight Indian ex-Navy veterans return to India.

Gwalior: The sister of one of the eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel released by Qatar expressed happiness on Monday over the development and thanked the Indian government and Qatar authorities for their release.

Dr Meetu Bhargava, the sister of Commander (retired) Purnendu Tiwari who has not yet reached India, told PTI Videos that she kept patient during this stressful time and would have been happier had he also returned to the country, and added that he would come back soon.

Qatar has released eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel, 46 days after their death sentences handed last October were commuted to jail terms of varying duration. Seven of them returned home early Monday.

They apparently faced charges of espionage but neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against them public.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement on Monday said India appreciates the decision by the Emir of Qatar to enable the release and homecoming of the Indians, who were arrested in August 2022.

"All the eight personnel have been released because of the government's efforts and seven of them have come to India. I am very happy about it," said Bhargava, a resident of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

Bhargava said she would have been happier had her brother also returned with them.

"But I am happy for him now. We also spoke (to him). He is fine in the embassy and has now gone back home to Doha. I came to know that he will be coming soon and I will be very happy once he returns," she said.

Bhargava thanked the central government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the Emir of Qatar for the release of the former Navy personnel.

"I am also grateful to India's Ambassador to Qatar Vipulji for his efforts and patience in dealing with the situation. We also maintained patience during this stressful time," she said.

The seven nationals who have returned to India are - Captains (retired) Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders (retired) Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma, and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Rajesh.

On October 26, the Navy veterans were given death sentences by Qatar's Court of First Instance.

On December 28, the Court of Appeal in the Gulf nation commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for durations ranging from three years to 25 years.

The Court of Appeal had also given 60 days to appeal against the prison terms.

In December last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai and discussed the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar.

It is learnt that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval played a role in the negotiations with the Qatari authorities in securing the release of the Indians.