India’s foreign minister on Monday said his country would “make all efforts” to ensure the release of eight former Navy personnel sentenced to death by a court in Qatar. They were accused of being Israeli spies.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he had met the families of the detained Indian nationals and told them that the government “places the highest importance” on their cases.
Indian media reported that the eight people – among them former high-ranking and respected officers, including several captains who had commanded combat ships – were arrested in Doha in August 2022.
In a social media post, Jaishankar said he fully shares the families’ “concern and pain,” and that “the government will continue to make all efforts to ensure their release.”
Qatar has not commented on the case and the charges against them have not been publicly announced.
Indian Navy Commander-in-Chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, told reporters Monday that “all efforts” were being made by the government to “get help to our personnel.”
The sentence was only revealed last week when India’s foreign ministry said it was “appalled” by the case.
The eight people are employees of Al Dahra, a Gulf-based company that offers “complete support solutions” for the aerospace, security and defense sectors, according to the company’s website.
The Hindu newspaper reported that the eight were “spying” for a third country, while the Times of India said that “various reports claim they were accused of spying for Israel.”
The Israeli government has not commented on the case.
Meetu Bhargava, sister of one of the convicts, dismissed the allegations.
“My brother is 63 years old.. Why did he spy for Israel? Why would he do something like this at his age?” Bhargava was quoted as saying by the India Express daily.
He said he wanted to seek “personal intervention” from PM Narendra Modi.
Last week, India’s foreign ministry said it would consider the verdict with Qatari authorities and would continue to “provide all consular and legal assistance” to the convicts.
Qatar rarely carries out executions, and the Gulf country has previously said that the death penalty is equivalent to life in prison.
According to Amnesty International, the country executed a Nepalese migrant worker in 2020, after a 20-year hiatus in carrying out such sentences.
New Delhi has good friendly relations with Doha, a major supplier of natural gas to India. More than two-thirds of Qatar’s 2.8 million residents are migrant workers, and many of them are Indian citizens.
Qatar, which houses Hamas’ political bureau and has provided financial assistance to Gaza, is linked to mediation efforts for prisoner exchanges between Palestinian and Israeli armed groups.
Source : VOA