Bail plea rejected again, despair for eight Indian ex-Navy officers languishing in Qatar jail

"We hope the Centre would help us by whatever means possible to secure the release of my brother and seven others at the earliest," Meetu Bhargava said.

Published: 16th March 2023 12:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2023 01:10 AM   |  A+A-

Indian Navy

Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The fate of the eight retired navy officers who have been under solitary confinement for eight months now in Qatar continues to hang in limbo.

The Indian Navy officers were detained in Doha on August 30, 2022.

Employed by a private company, Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services in Doha, the ex-Navy men were involved in training the Qatari Navy, according to a report.

"Today the hearing came up again, and their bail plea has been rejected for the eighth time in a row. The detention has been extended for 30 days. Families can appeal against this on Sunday (March 19th) but our hopes have crashed, said  Dr Meetu Bhargava, whose brother is a decorated former Naval officer and amongst those in detention since August 2022.

"Is it fair to keep eight former naval officers in confinement without framing any charges?" she queried.

"We hope the Centre would help us by whatever means possible to secure the release of my brother and seven others at the earliest," Meetu Bhargava said.

''We request PM Modi to intervene and speak with the Emir of Qatar to repatriate these officials as they are suffering an emotional crisis and are mentally too in a fragile state of mind,'' Dr Bhargava added.

According to a report in a backdated issue of The Financial Express, these naval officers were detained by the State Security Bureau (SSB) which is the intelligence agency of Qatar. And what is so astonishing is about this case is the even during the many video conferences with the family members of the detainees along the members of the Indian Embassy in Qatar, officials could not ascertain as why the Qatar intelligence agency had arrested them.

But The Week magazine, reported that it was just a friendly conversation by a group of eight former Indian Navy personnel with an Indian diplomat posted at Doha over three months ago that sparked suspicion among Qatari authorities that secret information may have been exchanged.

Quoting a source (who spoke on condition of anonymity) The Week reported that “The ex-Navy men had interacted with a diplomat who they were acquainted with because of a previous professional relationship. It was purely friendly banter and nothing more. But it got the Qatar authorities suspicious.” 

India has been optimistic about the early repatriation of this eight naval personnel, but until now it has all been in vain.

ALSO READ | Hearing on bail pleas of eight former Indian Naval officers in Doha today

Meanwhile, the term of the present Ambassador in Doha, Dipak Mittal, is ending this month. It is learnt that an official from the Ministry of External Affairs who is looking after Gulf is to replace him. Ambassador Mital will be joining the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) from next month.

(With inputs from Online Desk.)

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