NEW DELHI: A Qatari court on Thursday sentenced to death eight former Indian Navy personnel who were arrested last year on charges that have not yet been made public by local authorities, but are assumed to be – in the absence of any denial by either country – regarding spying.
The men were working with a firm called Al Dahra which was involved in training of the Qatari defence forces.The chief of the company, an Omani national, was also arrested but released after a couple of months.
The Indian government said it would raise the issue with Qatari authorities. “We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgment. We are in touch with family members and the legal team and we are exploring all legal options,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

The eight men were identified as Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and sailor Ragesh. Tiwari was given the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman, on recommendation from Doha, for his contribution towards capacity-building for the Qatar navy. Tiwari was the first armed forces personnel to be awarded this honour meant for NRIs.
Qatari intelligence had dramatically detained the eight on August 8, 2022, without specifying the charges against them and kept them in solitary confinement for months before their trial was finally initiated in late March this year.
The case has been marked by complete secrecy from the beginning, although media reports have suggested that Qatar cited electronic intelligence to accuse the Indian men of passing on to Israel sensitive information on a Qatari-Italian collaboration on a stealth submarine project.
India had earlier raised the issue diplomatically at high levels with Qatar but without success.
The government has been constrained not to put too much pressure on the Gulf state in the matter as much because of the nature of allegations as due to recognition that each country follows its own judicial process.

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