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"PM Modi personally supervised developments...working for return of eighth national": MEA on release of Navy veterans from Qatar
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi constantly personally supervised the developments in the release of seven Indian Navy veterans from Qatar, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Monday.
Stating that India is grateful for the release of seven Navy veterans, he said that New Delhi is also working on ensuring the return of the remaining eighth personnel.
"We are grateful, gratified for their return. We deeply appreciate the decision of the Qatari government and Emir to release them. We are happy to have those seven of those eight back. The eight Indian nationals have also been released and we continue to work with the Qatari government to see how quickly his return to India would be possible, " Kwatra said in a press conference.
"Prime Minister Modi himself personally, constantly supervised all the developments in the case and has never shied away from initiatives for the return of Indian nationals," he added.
In a major diplomatic triumph, the eight Indian Navy veterans, who were detained on espionage charges, were released by Qatar on Monday, after their death sentence was commuted earlier after New Delhi's diplomatic intervention.
On being asked about the number of Indian prisoners in UAE and Qatar, the Foreign Secretary said that the Indian government has extensive mechanisms in place to provide assistance including counsellor dialogues to the Indian prisoners.
"The government of India has extensive mechanisms in place of counsellor dialogues and discussions involving the Indian system and the systems in those countries, whose one of the principal tasks is to keep working towards the early release of all the Indian prisoners irrespective of which country they are," Kwatra said.
He added, "There are also established mechanisms and systems in place which ensure that whatever assistance wherever possible is to be made available to these prisoners, is made available through government mechanisms. These are the systems which have been strengthened enormously, whose remit has been expanded extensively."
The Ministry of External Affairs announced early Monday morning the release of the Indian nationals who were detained in Qatar.
"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 homecoming of these nationals," the statement said.
The men -- Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Sailor Ragesh -- were detained in August 2022.
On December 28, 2023, Qatar's Court of Appeal commuted the death penalty awarded to all eight men in October 2023.