Setting foot to their homeland after several agonising months of captivity in Qatar, seven of the eight Indian navy veterans who were sentenced to death on ‘espionage’ charges, heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying they wouldn’t have been freed had it for the sustained diplomatic efforts at his behest to secure their release. Relieved to finally walk free, the seven former Navy officers raised chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ after arriving at the Delhi airport in the early hours of Feb 12.
One of the Navy veterans who returned from Qatar said, “We waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to the PM. It wouldn’t have been possible without his intervention and his equation with Qatar. We are grateful to the Government of India from the bottom of our hearts for every effort that has been made and this day won’t have been possible without those efforts.”The eight Indian nationals were imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.