‘Wouldn’t have been possible…’: Freed Navy veterans praise PM Modi on return from Qatar | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In a significant diplomatic victory for India, eight Indian Navy veterans, once facing the dire prospect of a death sentence in Qatar on espionage charges, have been freed from jail. Seven of them returned to India on Monday morning. Their release follows intense negotiations led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and marks the end of a harrowing period for the veterans and their families.

Celebrations and thanks

Upon their arrival in Delhi, the veterans did not hesitate to express their deep appreciation for PM Modi’s personal intervention. “I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi as this wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for his personal intervention to secure our release,” one veteran told ANI, encapsulating the sentiments of his comrades.
Their return was marked by chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ reflecting their relief and joy. “We waited almost 18 months to be back home. We are extremely grateful to PM Modi for getting us back,” said another veteran, highlighting the enduring hope that sustained them and their families throughout the ordeal.

Diplomatic efforts

The commutation of their death sentences to extended prison terms and eventual release was the result of sustained diplomatic efforts and legal assistance from New Delhi. The veterans praised both PM Modi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for their roles in ensuring their freedom.
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) played a crucial role, assuring the anxious families of the veterans that all diplomatic avenues and legal assistance would be mobilized to secure their release. Of the eight detained, seven have now safely returned to Indian soil.
“The government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals… We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals,” the MEA said in a statement, acknowledging the successful outcome of intense diplomatic engagement.

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The veterans were detained since October 2022, accused of spying on a submarine programme—a charge that led to their initial death sentence by a Qatar court.
The MEA had pledged to continue providing all necessary consular and legal assistance, reflecting India’s commitment to its nationals abroad. The meeting between PM Modi and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the COP28 summit underscored the importance of bilateral relations and the well-being of the Indian community in Qatar.
(With inputs from agencies)

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