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PM Modi To Visit Qatar On Feb 14, Announces MEA After Release Of Navy Veterans

While Modi’s UAE visit was formally on the cards, the fact that he would stop in Qatar is a surprise.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Photo: PTI
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's will be visiting Doha on February 14, announced the Ministry of External Affairs after seven of the eight jailed Indian Navy veterans landed in India from Qatar in a surprise on Monday.

PM Modi is embarking on a two-day visit to the UAE on Monday with an aim to expand overall bilateral ties in a range of areas including trade and investment, energy and digital domain. After completing his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the prime minister will travel to Doha, Qatar on February 14 afternoon, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said at a media briefing.

The foreign secretary said Modi will hold bilateral talks with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and other high dignitaries.

Who are the eight Navy veterans and why were they being prosecuted?

Captains Navtej Gill and Saurabh Vasisht, Commanders Purnendu Tiwari, Amit Nagpal, SK Gupta, BK Verma and Sugunakar Pakala, and sailor Ragesh – were detained in August 2022 on undeclared charges. According to reports, they were allegedly accused of espionage by the Qatari authorities.

The former navy men were employed by Al Dahra Global Technologies, a private outfit involved in developing military facilities in Qatar. Their role was providing training and consultancy services to Qatar’s navy forces and advising the Qatari regime on the submarine acquisition, according to Deccan Herald.

The Navy veterans were first allowed consular access in October 2022, following which they filed multiple bail pleas all of which were rejected. The trial began in March 2023, and on October 26, 2023 they were awarded the death penalty.

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