A Qatari court sentenced eight former officers of the Indian Navy to death on Thursday, convicting them of espionage for Israel, specifically concerning Qatar’s submarine programme.
Responding to the verdict, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said, “We are deeply shocked by the outcome and await the detailed judgment from the court.” Due to the sensitive nature of the case, the ministry refrained from commenting further. However, they did mention, “We are closely following the case and will continue to provide full consular and legal assistance to the detained individuals. We intend to address the matter with Qatari authorities.”
Those sentenced include Commander (Retired) Purnedu Tiwari, Captain (Retired) Navtej Singh Gill, Commander (Retired) Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain (Retired) Saurabh Vasisht, Commander (Retired) Sugunakar Pakala, Commander (Retired) Amit Nagpal, Commander (Retired) Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.
At the time of their arrest in August, these officers were associated with ‘Al Zahra International Consultancy and Services’ in Doha, a company known for offering training and resources to the Qatari Navy. The owner, a retired squadron leader of the Royal Omani Air Force, was detained alongside the Indian officers but was subsequently released in November.
The consultancy, previously a known associate of Qatar’s Ministry of Defence, saw its website, which once profiled its top personnel—including many Indian nationals— taken offline.
It’s noteworthy that some of these officers had prior involvement in submarine projects during their tenure with the Indian Navy. Since their detention in late August, there have been reports of their possible solitary confinement.