It is possible only because of the intervention of Prime Minister Modi

New Delhi:

Navy veterans who were released by Qatar after more than a year in an alleged espionage case have expressed their thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government for securing their release. Seven of the eight veterans, who returned to the country, walked out of Delhi airport chanting “Bharat mata ki jay'.

One of them said: “We are very happy to have returned to India safely. Of course, we would like to thank Prime Minister Modi as this would not have been possible without his personal intervention.”

“It would not have been possible for us to be standing here without the intervention of Prime Minister Modi. This has also happened due to the continuous efforts of the Government of India,” another veteran said.

Another veteran said they had to wait 18 months to return to India.

“We have waited almost 18 months to return to India. We are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister. This would not have been possible without his personal intervention and equation with Qatar. We are grateful to the Government of India from the depths of the world.” He said: “Our hearts go out to every effort that was made, and this day would not have been possible without those efforts.”

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The government announced their release early this morning, thanking the Emir of Qatar for enabling them to return to their homeland.

“The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for Al Dahra International who were detained in Qatar. Seven of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision taken by the Emir of the State of Qatar to enable the release of these citizens and return them to their homeland,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Sources told NDTV that the veterans had no prior information about their release and were taken away by embassy officials shortly after their release. They added that they boarded an IndiGo flight yesterday and returned after 2 am.

Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vashisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Seaman Rajesh were arrested in August 2022.

They were employed by a private company, Al Dhahirah International, and were in Qatar to help introduce the Italian U212 stealth submarines into the Qatari Emiri Navy in their personal roles.

They were sentenced to death by a Qatari court on October 26, 2023. India said it was “deeply shocked” by the ruling and was exploring all legal options.

The death penalty was commuted in December following Indian diplomatic intervention.

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