Jammu (J&K): Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah on Monday said he believed that Qatar sentencing eight former Indian Naval veterans to death could be a fallout of India's stance on the ongoing Israel-Palestine war.
Speaking to ETV Bharat over the phone, Abdullah said Qatar was sitting on the issue for three years and it was surprising that the judgment came around the time India was trying to strike a balance between maintaining its friendly relations with Israel and showing some sympathy for the Palestinian cause. A clear tilt towards the former was seen when India refused to back a UN General Assembly vote on the Gaza ceasefire on October 27.
On October 26, a court in Qatar sentenced eight former Indian Navy officers, who had been working for a private company, to death. India's Ministry of External said that it was “deeply shocked” by the judgment and was looking at all legal options. The charges against the eight were not made public, however, according to media reports, they were detained on suspicion of passing down classified information to a third country.
Asked whether India's attitude on the issue of Hamas and Palestine could be the reason for Qatar's decision, Dr Abdullah said, “They (Qatar) were sitting on that issue for three years. But nothing happened. Now the judgment has come. You saw that Qatar immediately sentenced those (former) navy personnel to death. Judgment comes after waiting for three years, this shows that people there too (Qatar government) may not want to agree with us on what our (India's) stand is."
The veteran politician expressed disappointment over the attitude of the Indian government on the issue of Palestine. “We (India) have always spoken in favour of Palestine. However, the statement given by the Prime Minister was completely against that stand. But later, Ministry of External Affairs clarified that our policy has been the same."
On October 7, the day Hamas ignited the war with a brutal incursion into Israel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India stood in solidarity with Israel. “Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour,” Modi posted on X.
Days later, the Ministry of External Affairs had to issue a statement reiterating its long-standing stance that India supported the establishment of a "sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine". However, abstaining from the UN resolution in favour of a ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel has killed over 8,000 people including nearly 3500 children, was a major indicator of the shifting stances in BJP-ruled India.
"It was not good to abstain from the United Nations resolution which was asking for humanitarian aid for Palestine. That was very wrong and because of that our friends in Arab countries would have felt very bad about it," Abdullah opined.