New Delhi: Hours after eight Navy veterans jailed in Qatar on espionage charges were freed, the Bharatiya Janata Party termed the development a "big diplomatic win" for India. The eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel were freed by a Qatari court nearly three-and-a-half months after they were handed down death sentences in a case of suspected espionage.
"It seemed at one point in time it would be very difficult to make it happen. But they have come back safe and sound. That is great news for every Indian. It shows how much the words of the Indian foreign ministry and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) matter," BJP Spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said on Monday. "It is a big diplomatic win for India. It shows how India has negotiated so well that we have our Navy veterans back," she said.
In a similar tone, Union Minister Smriti Irani also credited the government for the release of the former Navy personnel asserting that the protection of interests of Indians, wherever they may be, has been a priority of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Irani told reporters that the manner in which the Navy veterans have returned to India is due to the government's special efforts.
Referring to the evacuation of Indians at different points in time from Ukraine, Sudan and Nepal during crises, Irani said "ghar wapsi" and protection of interests of Indians, wherever they may be in the world, have been Prime Minister Modi's priority.
The Navy veterans were handed the death sentence by a Qatari court of First Instance in a case of suspected espionage on October 26 last year. The Navy veterans were working with the private company Al Dahra and they were first arrested in August 2022. The Court of Appeal in the Gulf nation on December 28 last year commuted the capital punishment of the eight Navy veterans and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said seven of them have returned to India. It said India appreciates the decision by the Emir of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of the Indians.