Indian Ambassador meets 8 Navy veterans on death row in Qatar
New Delhi: The Indian ambassador to Qatar met with eight former Navy personnel, who were handed the death penalty in October for undisclosed reasons, the government said earlier on Tuesday.
External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "Our Ambassador got consular access to meet all eight in prison on December 3."
On India's petition against the death sentence, Bagchi said, "There have been two hearings so far (these were held on November 23 and November 30). We are closely following the matter and extending all legal and consular assistance. This is a sensitive issue, but we will do whatever we can."
NDTV reported that the next hearing is likely to occur soon.
The Ambassador's interaction with the sailors is seen as a constructive measure that addressed concerns about lack of consular access to the eight naval personnel.
Another positive development is two hearings held after India filed its appeal.
News of the meeting with the eight sailors, arrested in August last year by that country's intelligence agency on charges of spying, is being linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's discussions with the Qatar ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on the sidelines of the CoP28 summit in Dubai.
"You would have seen (that) Prime Minister Modi meet Sheikh Tamim nin Hamad, the Emir of Qatar in Dubai on the side-lines of (the) CoP28 (summit). They had a good conversation on the overall bilateral relationship as well as the well-being of the Indian community..." Bagchi said.
The details of the Prime Minister's brief meeting with the Emir have not been disclosed to the public. However, it seems that the Prime Minister has now directly addressed this issue with the Qatari ruler.
On November 24, a Qatari court admitted India's formal appeal against the death sentence, a development that the government described as deeply shocking.
The detained naval personnel consist of Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar.
The eight former Navy officers, who had once commanded significant Indian warships, were employed by Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services at the time of their arrest.
Dahra is a private company offering training and related services to Qatar's armed forces.
According to sources, some of the sailors were involved in a critical project concerning stealth submarines based on Italian technology.
Media reports have suggested that they are accused of espionage for Israel.
However, the families of the eight navy officers have vehemently denied these spying allegations while speaking with NDTV.
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