Qatar’s judiciary has sentenced eight former Indian Navy personnel to death after detaining them for more than a year. The Indian government has expressed its deep shock over the verdict and said it was exploring all legal options. The military veterans had been working for a private firm when they were detained by the Qatari intelligence service on unspecified charges in August last year.
“We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgement. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options. 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,” the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.
Why has Qatar sentenced Navy Officials to death?
Eight former Indian Navy officers, who were working for a private firm, were detained by the Qatari intelligence service in Doha last year. Eight months since the Indian Navy personnel were detained in Qatar, the oil-rich kingdom has not yet revealed the charges against them.
While the charges against the Indian Navy officers have not been unsealed by the Qatari government, the Central government worked relentlessly to bring the officials back but they were unable to do so.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has informed that the legal proceedings against the former Navy officers have started. The first hearing in the case was on 29 March, and the second hearing was on 3 May of this year.
What has Qatar accused the Officials of?
The former Indian Navy personnel who under-went a trial in Qatar have been charged with the offence of spying for Israel on the country’s advanced submarines. These submarines are reportedly covered with meta-materials that enhance their stealth capabilities and make them harder to detect.
The Navy personnel were detained on the night of 30 August, 2022. The sister of one of the officers detained had sought help from the government to bring her brother back. Her brother is a retired commander Navy officer and went to Qatar to “provide training to Qatar Navy through his company Dahra Global Consultancy Services”.
The Law and Order in Qatar
The reasons for which capital punishment is awarded in Qatar
Qatar has the death penalty, primarily for espionage or other threats against national security. Apostasy, same-sex intercourse, and blasphemy are considered capital offences, but there have been no recorded applications of the death penalty for this charge.
What kind of relationship exists between New Delhi and Doha?
Both the countries have had a good relationship ever since former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh visited Qatar for the first time in November 2008.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, visited India in 2015, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Qatar in 2016. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has visited the country on at least three occasions. The late Sushma Swaraj became the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit Qatar in 2018.
In 2021, India was among the top four export destinations for Qatar; it is also among the top three sources of Qatar’s imports. The bilateral trade is valued at $15 billion, which is mostly LNG and LPG exports from Qatar worth over $13 billion.
Defence co-operation has been officially described as a “pillar” of Indian-Qatar ties. The India-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed during Prime Minister Singh’s November 2008 visit, was a significant turning point. The agreement was extended for another five years in 2018.
Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images.
Is there some kind of turbulence expected in India-Qatar relationship?
The jailing of the eight ex-Navy personnel is the second big challenge of recent years after the Nupur Sharma fiasco. The development blindsided New Delhi in a country where 800,000 Indians live and work. Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar.
The diplomats are said to be working on the best possible out-come for both of the nations. According to reports and experts the world could anticipate a fallout in India-Qatar relationship. Qatar has been on of our most reliable partners in the Middle-East terrains, does this mean the end of that partnership?