Qatar reprieve: Alleged mercenary role of ex-officers worrisome - The Tribune India

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Qatar reprieve

Alleged mercenary role of ex-officers worrisome

Qatar reprieve

Photo for representation. File photo



INDIA’S diplomatic intervention has helped eight former Indian naval officers get off death row in Qatar. The Gulf country’s Court of Appeal has commuted their sentence in an alleged espionage case. The verdict comes weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai. The Indian nationals, who were working on a submarine project with a Doha-based private company, Al Dahra Global Technologies, were taken into custody in August 2022. They were sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance in October this year. Even though the Qatari authorities have not made the charges public, the former Navy personnel have reportedly been convicted of spying for Israel.

The prisoners have one legal option left — they can appeal to the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the Qatari judicial system. India is hopeful that the convicts would be allowed to serve their remaining sentence back home under a 2014 agreement between the two nations. In the best-case scenario, they can be pardoned by the Emir. Going by India’s handling of the issue, it seems unlikely that the charges against them are all trumped up.

Amid the widespread relief and backslapping over the commutation of sentence, there is no denying that the case has caused embarrassment to the Indian government. It has been a tough tightrope walk for New Delhi as it enjoys friendly ties with Doha as well as Tel Aviv. The alleged use of India’s retired defence personnel as mercenaries by another nation is a matter of grave concern. Such James Bond-style adventurism can adversely impact bilateral relations, besides having wider geopolitical ramifications. Considering the ongoing conflict in West Asia, where Qatar is acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, India needs to be wary of nefarious moves that can damage its reputation in the global arena.

#Narendra Modi #Qatar


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