Eight retired Indian Navy members were sentenced to death by a court in Qatar on Thursday, a verdict that has “deeply shocked” the Indian state.
The retired officers, who were arrested in August 2022, are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar.
Last year, on August 30, the intelligence agency of Qatar apprehended the individuals from their residences on charges of espionage, reportedly on behalf of Israel. These individuals were employed by Dahra Global Technologies, a defense services provider company based in Qatar. Since their arrest, they have been subjected to solitary confinement, denied the opportunity for bail, and now face a death sentence.
In 2019, Commander Purnendu Tiwari received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, which is the highest recognition bestowed upon Indians residing abroad. Commander Tiwari, who held the position of Managing Director at Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, had an illustrious career in the Indian Navy where he commanded multiple warships.
All about Dahra Global Technologies
Dahra is a Gulf-based provider of complete support solutions to the Aerospace, Security, Defense, Information Technology & Communications sectors. The veterans were involved in providing training and consultancy services to Qatar’s navy forces and advising the Qatari regime on the submarine acquisition.
Dahra’s primary business focus revolves around defense services, which encompass various activities such as equipment procurement and sales, system implementation, spare parts provision, after-sales support, comprehensive supply chain management, and assistance for land forces, marine sector, special task forces, coast guard, police forces, and similar entities.
Khamis Al-Ajmi serves as CEO of the company.
What are the charges on Indian veterans?
The charges against the eight individuals have not been officially disclosed by either New Delhi or Doha. But initial reports suggest thatthe authorities apprehended the officials under suspicion of engaging in espionage for the Jewish state, specifically regarding Qatar’s military submarine program.
According to media reports, Dahra Global Technologies, was owned by a Qatari national who was also arrested but later released on bail. There were speculations in the media that Qatar allegedly intercepted electronic communication, which indicated that the detained men were involved in espionage activities on behalf of Israel. Specifically, they were accused of spying on the Qatari navy’s confidential project involving Italian midget submarines designed to evade radar detection.
The Ministry of External Affairs in India stated that it is anticipating a comprehensive verdict in the case.
“We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options,” it said.
“We attach high importance to this case and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities,” it added.
(Published 28 October 2023, 07:36 IST)