Indian Navy veteran freed by Qatar reveals how they survived the prison ordeal | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Indian Navy released by Qatar says survived prison ordeal thanks to defence training

ByAdarsh Kumar Gupta
Feb 15, 2024 05:26 AM IST

Eight Indian Navy veterans were sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26, 2023.

Eight former Indian Navy veterans sentenced to death in Qatar on charges of espionage were recently released in a major diplomatic breakthrough for the Narendra Modi government. Ragesh Gopakumar, one of the eight Navy veterans, arrived in his hometown Balaramapuram in Kerala on Monday and was reunited with his family members.

A combination of pictures shows the ex-Indian Navy veterans, who were in custody in Qatar, at the Delhi airport on Monday. (ANI)
A combination of pictures shows the ex-Indian Navy veterans, who were in custody in Qatar, at the Delhi airport on Monday. (ANI)

In an interaction with news agency PTI, he said all Navy veterans were able to survive in Qatar only due to their defence training.

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"We are just happy to be alive... happy to be home," Gopakumar said. He shared that he had retired from the Indian Navy in 2017 and later joined the Oman Defence training company as a communications instructor.

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During the interaction, Gopakumar shared that he used to speak to his wife at least five times a day before getting imprisoned.

"Prison and confinement is something terrible," he said.

Gopakumar also hailed the personal intervention of PM Modi which led to his release. He said he was hopeful of getting released "if Modiji intervened" but had no idea how long it would take.

"If an Indian is in trouble abroad and is innocent... if our PM is convinced about it, he will come to their rescue even if it is just one person... every Indian should know this," said the Navy veteran.

How Modi govt ensured the release of Navy veterans

The eight former Indian Navy veterans were sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26, 2023. The authorities in Qatar maintained a complete silence on the case and it found no mention in the country’s media.

In December 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai. On December 28, the Court of Appeal in Qatar commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for durations ranging from three years to 25 years.

As per reports, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval played a big role in the negotiations with the Qatari authorities for securing the release of the former Indian Navy veterans

On February 12, the Union government released an official statement welcoming the decision to set the Navy veterans free. The statement read: “The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals.”

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