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Jaishankar’s Qatar visit sparks hope of ex-naval commander’s return

Top 5Jaishankar’s Qatar visit sparks hope of ex-naval commander’s return

NEW DELHI: Purnendu Tiwari is not being able to leave Doha because of a travel ban.

Former Indian Navy commander Purnendu Tiwari is expected to return home soon, sources say. Tiwari, who was released from Qatari detention in February, has been unable to leave Doha due to an ongoing travel ban.

Despite this obstacle, diplomatic efforts to secure his return to India have intensified in recent weeks. Officials familiar with the matter indicate that a breakthrough may be imminent, potentially ending Tiwari’s prolonged stay in Qatar.

Tiwari was arrested along with seven other Indian nationals on the night of 30 August 2022 by Qatar’s State Security (QSS), its intelligence and internal security agency, on unspecified charges. However, all seven were later released on 12 February this year, a decision attributed to the excellent and warm relations between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. They spent 561 days in detention in Qatar.

Tiwari was working as managing director of Dahra Global, an Omani-registered company that was working in close collaboration with the Qatari navy. The said company is now defunct.

Last Sunday, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, who was on a brief visit to the Gulf country, met Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. According to the official release, they “reviewed bilateral relations, with a focus on political, trade, investment, energy, technology, culture and people-to-people ties.”

While there was no mention of lifting the travel ban on the 64-year-old Tiwari in the media release, sources in Doha familiar with the matter told The Sunday Guardian that the issue was discussed and a “positive” resolution was not ruled out.

Messages sent to India’s ambassador to Qatar, Vipul, who goes by a single name, seeking an update on the matter did not generate a response by the time the report went to press.
The 85-year-old mother of Purnendu Tiwari (64) is suffering from severe mental stress because she has not been able to meet her son, who, family sources said, would make it a point to visit her from Doha every six months.

Sources said that Tiwari’s presence in Qatar was related to a probe involving business transactions which Tiwari was a part of, on the direction of the company’s CEO, Khamis Al Ajmi, a retired squadron leader of the Royal Oman Air Force. Ajmi too was arrested on 30 August but was released on 18 November.

In January 2019, then-President of India, Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to Tiwari, who became the first Indian Armed Forces personnel to receive this highest honour meant for NRIs/PIOs. The award was given in recognition of his contribution towards capacity building for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces, thereby promoting India-Qatar bilateral cooperation, the citation stated.

Tiwari served in the Indian Navy from 1982 to 2002, during which he also commanded Indian Navy ships. Later, after retiring, he played an instrumental role in setting up world-class training infrastructure for the Qatar Emiri Naval Force and conducting the training of naval officers while serving at Dahra.

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