As the families of the eight Indian Navy veterans held captive in Doha since August 2022 gear up for the next hearing on November 30, 2023, there is a reason for them to cheer. The Interior Ministry of Qatar has given them access to fitness-related activities, such as the use of a gymnasium.
“The mental health of the eight personnel was being impacted from the time they were picked up. Some of them went into or withdrew to their shell due to the uncertainty of solitary confinement, which was later converted into twin-sharing and the announcement of the death penalty was removed. The interior ministry of Qatar has recently permitted these eight men to participate in fruitful and sportive activities like playing badminton, tennis, and gyms.
The weekly phone calls with family members continue, Also, the acceptance of their appeal by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on November 23, 2023, brought them some respite. The acceptance of the appeal implies that Qatar will keep India in the loop before executing these eight men.
Hopes of Repatriation
With the next hearing slated for November 30, 2023, there are a lot of concerns about what the court will announce for these men. The source added that the families will continue to be on the tenterhooks until they are repatriated. Meanwhile, the family members are optimistic that the Emir of Qatar will pardon the men on the country’s upcoming National Day on December 18, 2023.
“We can only be optimistic that our naval veterans are pardoned and repatriated. It has been a long and gruelling tenure for them in prison since August 30, 2022,” the source added. The eight Indian Navy veterans were working in their private capacity with Dahra Global to oversee the induction of Italian small stealth submarines when they were picked by the police.
Miracle of Indian Diplomacy
Prior to the mediation by the Indian government, there was no hope for any survival of the eight Indian Navy personnel who were arrested on the charge of espionage. Due to the combined efforts of the Narendra Modi government and the External Affairs Ministry, things have begun to get clear. Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and Subramaniam Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, coupled with their rich diplomatic experience, sharp wit, negotiation skills and forty years of expertise in international relations and foreign affairs, has borne fruit.
After months of negotiations, tacit diplomacy and shrewdness, the condition became favourable for these innocents and falsely accused men. After the Indian government came into the diplomatic arena, the initially imprisoned men graduated to solitary confinement and after gradual incrementation, they have reached a stage where they have access to facilities like sports, exercise, and access to gyms, which in turn has improved their psychological and mental health in addition.