A Qatari court on Thursday, 26 October, awarded death penalty to eight former Indian Navy personnel who had been detained in the country for over a year.
In response to the verdict, the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that they are "deeply shocked," awaiting the detailed judgment, and exploring all legal options.
"We are in touch with the family members...We attach high importance to this case, and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance," MEA said in a statement.
It added that the Indian government will take up the verdict with Qatari authorities.
The eight men, including former decorated officers of the Indian Navy, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm that provided training and related services to Qatar’s armed forces, Hindustan Times reported.
Sources close to the family had earlier told The Quint that the eight men have been charged with espionage. The families have been taken back to the Indian Embassy in Qatar while the men are in a lockup.
The details of the case have not been revealed due to the "confidential nature of proceedings of the case," MEA stated.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor said that "the details of the entire case are shrouded in mystery & opacity."
"We cannot say anything until everything will come in front...I can express sadness for what has happened. It is not possible for us to accept that the personnel have done anything due to which they are getting punished. When there are relations between two countries, diplomatic ways can be created. This is an important thing for us because the message goes to the whole world," Congress leader Salman Khurshid was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The bail pleas of the accused men had been rejected previously several times, and their detention had been extended by the authorities.
On 30 August, 2022, eight men, along with two others, were apprehended on undisclosed charges and subsequently placed in solitary confinement.
By 1 October, India’s Ambassador in Doha and Deputy Head of Mission had a meeting with the eight naval veterans.
On 3 October, the first consular access was granted. CEO of Dahra Global, Khamis al-Ajmi, also sought to secure the release of his officials but was himself detained. He remained in solitary confinement for two months before being granted bail.
1 March: The veterans' final bail plea was rejected.
25 March: Charges were officially filed against the eight men.
29 March: The trial, in accordance with Qatari law, commenced.
By 30 May, Dahra Global had ceased its operations in Doha, prompting the return of all former employees, primarily Indians, to their home country.
On 4 August, the arrested men received some relief as they were transferred from solitary confinement to a jail ward, where they were housed with their colleagues, two men per cell.
Finally, on 26 October, the court handed down the death penalty to all eight men.