Qatar Death Penalty: Vizag Man Among 8 Indians Deeply Shocked

In a tragic development, Qatar's local court sentenced 8 former officers of the Indian Navy to death on charges of espionage.
Qatar Death Penalty: Vizag Man Among 8 Indians Deeply Shocked

In a tragic development, Qatar's local court sentenced 8 former officers of the Indian Navy to death on charges of espionage. This includes Retired Navy Commander Pakala Sugunakar from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

The rest are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vashisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Rajesh. They were all holding key positions in the Al Dahra Company of Qatar at the time of arrest in the capital Doha in August last year. However, the charges against them have not been made public so far. After several trials, the local court gave the latest verdict imposing the death penalty. The Ministry of External Affairs of India has expressed dismay at this.

Impact of Israel-Palestine Issue:

The verdict comes as Doha plays a crucial mediation role in delicate talks between Israel and Hamas to free civilian hostage held in Gaza.

Navy Officers Working With Al Dahra Global:

Most of these Navy officers who have been sentenced to death are now over 60 years of age. They also have previous experience of serving in important warships of the Indian Navy. After retirement from the Indian Navy, they are working for Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private company in Qatar. The company provides training and support to the Qatar Navy. Former Oman Air Force Squadron Leader Khamis Al Azmi is the CEO of this company.

The media speculation is that the company is working on a secret project to build submarines based on Italian technology. There are suspicions that these eight former officers of the Indian Navy were hired as employees for this project. However, on August 30, Qatar's intelligence agency arrested these eight Indian officials on charges of spying for Israel. To this extent, some electronic evidence was also seized from them.

Company CEO Khamis Al Azmi was also arrested but he was released in November last year. For the Indian officers, the trial started in the court on March 29 this year. They filed eight petitions for bail but the court rejected them. On Thursday (October 26, 2023), the Qatar Court of First Instance issued a death sentence.

All About Vizag man Commander Pakala Sugunakar:

Commander Pakala Sugunakar, one of the former Navy officers sentenced to death, hails from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. He joined the Navy at the age of 18 and had a successful career before retiring in 2013. He had achieved the milestone of crossing the equator twice on INS Tarangini.

Sugunakar studied at Korukonda Sainik School, Vizianagaram district, studied at Naval Engineering College, then joined the Navy, and rose to the rank of Commander. As part of his duties, he worked for some time in the Eastern Navy in Visakhapatnam. After that, he retired and joined the Dahra Company. Navy-related training was given there. Sugunakar's wife Vyjayanti works as a teacher in Visakhapatnam.

Sugunakar's family members and friends in Visakhapatnam are shocked by the Qatar court's decision and are hoping for his release.  The family is in contact with the Ministry of External Affairs through BJP Rajya Sabha member GVL Narasimha Rao. He speaks to External Affairs Minister Jaishankar. External Minister and Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Vipul, assure to provide all necessary support.

Indian government explores legal and diplomatic options after Qatar death sentence. But some of the Defence experts smell "Conspiracy" by the Qatar, in the back-drop of Israel-Palestine conflict.

What Are the Legal Options to be Exercised?:

  • The first step is to appeal within the judicial system in Qatar.

  • If due procedures are not followed or an appeal process is missing, then India can invoke International Court of Justice jurisdiction.

  • The government can also use diplomatic pressure to prevent meting out the death penalty.

  • NGOs and civil society can raise the issue at a global level, and pressure from the United Nations can be taken too.