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  Opinion   Edit  30 Dec 2023  AA Edit | Good news from Qatar

AA Edit | Good news from Qatar

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Dec 30, 2023, 2:01 am IST
Updated : Dec 30, 2023, 2:01 am IST

India’s intervention in the case at country level and then again at the highest level when Modi met the Emir of Qatar at the climate summit in Dubai

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. (PTI File Image)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. (PTI File Image)

It comes as a big relief that Qatar’s court of appeal has commuted the death sentence imposed on eight former Indian Navy personnel who were convicted of spying. They have been given various terms in jail, ranging from three to 25 years, depending on the intensity of their alleged roles in espionage for a subsidiary of the Dahra Engineering & Security services company they were working for after retiring from service in the Indian Navy.

India’s intervention in the case at country level and then again at the highest level when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the climate summit in Dubai earlier this month seems to have helped to the extent of putting the case in focus after the shocking verdict had come after their sensational arrest in Aug. 2022.

The commutation of the death sentence is a major development as India can now invoke a 2015 agreement with Qatar on the transfer of prisoners by which the eight can serve out their sentences in India. Had the death sentence not been stayed, their cases would not have come under the agreement.

India should, however, press on with its soft power to try and get the case resolved if it is established that the retired Navy men were not involved in espionage as suspected and said to be proven under Qatari law.

An avenue to seek pardon from the Emir of Qatar may not arise until the appeals process is completed though the families of the eight have petitioned the Emir already for pardon. The process could stretch if the next legal option for the sentenced eight — Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vashist, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala and sailor Ragesh — is to seek reduction of their jail sentences.

It is not India’s case that its nationals cannot be involved in such activities as espionage, but to seek clemency is anyone’s right. Given the closeness of the ties that the two countries enjoy, it might be in the best interest of the convicted eight that their appeal for a pardon is pressed rather than engaging in a long and uncertain legal process of establishing their innocence in a court battle in Qatar.

Tags: indian navy, indians in qatar, aa edit