PM Narendra Modi Qatar Visit Announcement On Day 8 Jailed Indians Freed By Doha

PM Narendra Modi’s Qatar visit is aimed at discussing ways to strengthen overall ties

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to Doha in Qatar on Wednesday after his visit to the UAE ends, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said today.

The visit is aimed at discussing ways to further strengthen overall ties, Mr Kwatra said.

The announcement of PM Modi’s visit to Qatar also comes on a day when Doha finally released eight Indian Navy personnel who had been in jail over an alleged espionage case. Qatar had sentenced them to death in October 2023.

Seven of them returned home early Monday, while the eighth will return home soon.

PM Modi had personally supervised the handling of the case to free the Indians arrested in Qatar, the Foreign Secretary said.

Over 8.4 lakh Indians live in Qatar. “The two leaders will look at deepening bilateral ties,” Mr Kwatra added.

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

The former Indian Navy personnel apparently faced charges of espionage but neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against them public.

“The government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar,” the MEA said. “Seven out of eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Emir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and homecoming of these nationals,” the MEA said in the statement.

The eight Indian nationals are Captain Navtej Gill (retired), Captain Saurabh Vasisht (retired), Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retired), Commander Amit Nagpal (retired), Commander SK Gupta (retired), Commander BK Verma (retired), and Commander Sugunakar Pakala (retired), and sailor Ragesh.

Commander Tiwari stayed back in Doha and is likely to come back to India soon, news agency PTI reported.

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 to 25 years.

In December last year, PM 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. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval played a role in the negotiations with the Qatari authorities in securing the release of the Indians.

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