VASCO: Congress leader and retired Navy Officer Captain Viriato Fernandes on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to back the 8 ex-Navy officers from Qatar who have been sentenced to death by a Qatar court for their alleged involvement in an “espionage case”.
Speaking to reporters, Capt. Fernandes said he was shocked and dismayed about the 8 ex-Indian Navy officers being sentenced to death by the Qatar court in a trial which has been conducted in a very secretive, unfair and opaque manner.
Significant no. of Indians working in Qatar
"There is no doubt that this case is a highly sensitive one and will have its repercussions. There are 15,000 Indian companies operating in Qatar and over 7 lakh Indian expatriates stationed in Qatar who are playing a significant role in its development and growth. Failure to save the lives of our people may serve to demoralise them and cast a cloud of uncertainty regarding their own security, safety and their very future in Qatar,” said Capt Fernandes.
"Most of those who have been accused happen to be highly decorated war veterans of very high integrity, which makes the case even more perplexing. The skilful handling of this case will send out a strong and unequivocal message that the nation looks after its soldiers and those who have served it.”
“There is no doubt that this case will reflect on India’s global influence, status, and prestige, especially because bilateral relations between India and Qatar are deep-rooted," said Capt. Fernandes.
India-Qatar bilateral relations
He stated that as India and Qatar celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relationship which began in 1973, the release of war veterans becomes a litmus test to this deep-rooted and culturally bonded relationship.
“In 2015, six agreements were inked between the PM and the visiting Emir of Qatar Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani involving not only cooperation in various fields but also an agreement on the transfer of prisoners. Could this agreement be invoked to bring our veterans and heroes safely back home?”
Capt. Fernandes has requested the PM to explore all diplomatic avenues to go that extra mile and leave no stone unturned to demonstrate India’s commitment to its expatriate citizens and concern for their welfare and safety by safely bringing back home our war heroes and uniting them with their anxious families.