- Keeping them in solitary confinement for more than seven months for no fault of their own is nothing but harsh punishment.
- Three of the eight veterans retired from the Navy as captains, four as commanders, and one as a sailor.
On Wednesday, a court in Qatar postponed a hearing in the case of eight former Indian navy officers who are in jail on charges that have not been made public. Their defense lawyer told the judge that he had not yet received all the papers from the prosecution.
The first meeting in their trial was on March 29. But even though there has been a lot of talk about what the Navy veterans are being accused of, family members have said that neither Qatari authorities nor Indian officials who have had consular contact with the prisoners have told them what the formal charges are.
On April 6, a MEA spokesman said the Indian government would help the guys with their legal issues.
“We’ve heard that the case has been sent to court by the public prosecutors. “The first hearing was on March 29, and our officials and the defense lawyer were both there,” our spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a meeting that day.
At the second meeting on Wednesday, the men’s families were hoping to find out what charges had been brought against their loved ones. But the hearing was put off after the lawyer sent by the embassy told the court that he couldn’t make a defense until he had access to all the case papers.
The date of the next meeting is not known yet.
Eight months have passed since the men, who were top managers at a company that worked closely with the Qatar Navy, were dragged out of their homes by Qatari intelligence agents on the night of August 30, 2017. Their families still don’t know how these former Indian Navy officers went from being in charge of a favored company to being locked up alone in a Doha jail.
The case has been a challenge for Indian diplomacy in an area where Delhi says relations are “better than ever before.” About 8,000,000 Indian expats live and work in Qatar. Even though many people have been in trouble with the law and a number of people are deported every year, this is the first case of this kind with a possible security factor that is putting a strain on the 50-year-old relationship between the two countries.
So far, all the men’s families know is that charges were filed against each of them singly in March and that they had to sign documents.
“Keeping them in solitary confinement for more than seven months for no fault of their own is nothing but harsh punishment. “Indian legal help is now needed for repatriation or deportation because there has to be a limit to their suffering.”
Three of the eight veterans retired from the Navy as captains, four as commanders, and one as a sailor. They worked at Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, which helped the Qatari Emiri Naval Force with training, logistics, and support. The eight guys were recently fired by the company, which is now called Dahra Global. It has also ended the contracts of its other Indian workers, who number around 50.