‘The 8 men have likely become a collateral loss involving powerful local entities fighting each other for business issues’.
NEW DELHI: The eight Indian navy veterans who were working for a Doha-based private company before being taken into custody by Qatar’s intelligence agency were not on the list of prisoners who were given a royal pardon on 18 December which is Qatar’s National Day.
Every year, the Emir or the ruler of Qatar, who is the monarch and the royal head of the state, pardons prisoners on the occasion of Qatar National Day. Since this time the National Day was coinciding with the high-profile FIFA final that was played in Doha, it was expected that the details of the said pardon order coming out will be delayed.
The family members of these eight Indians working with Dahra Global Technologies—who have been in custody of the State Security, the intelligence agency of Qatar since 30 August—were given indications from local Doha sources that they were likely to be released on 18 December. However, now it seems that these eight are unlikely to come out of the prison by this year.
The Sunday Guardian’s email to the office of Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani seeking details of the Indian prisoners did not elicit any response till the time the story went to press. As an age-old practice, Qatari authorities do not reveal identities of prisoners released by the Amiri order, or details of their crimes. On Thursday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) too did not give any positive signals while responding to queries by journalists on the fate of the men. The MEA said that it was aware of this issue and had raised it with the Qatar government while seeking for more consular access to them.
Earlier, Congress Member of Parliament Manish Tewari, who had raised the issue in the Parliament, raised the matter on Twitter while asking foreign minister S. Jaishankar what the government was doing to bring these 8 navy veterans back.
Sources told The Sunday Guardian that these eight men had likely become a “collateral loss” involving local powerful entities who were fighting with each other for business issues. This theory has gained strength in India and across the world as the Qatar government has refused to reveal the charges on which these eight men were detained by the secret police.
Incidentally, the Government of India and Qatar have plans to jointly celebrate completion of 50 years of India-Qatar diplomatic relations in 2023. However, if these eight men are still in custody, the MEA would come under a lot of domestic pressure to re-approach this planned celebration.