Captain Saurabh Vashisht returns to Doon after being released from Qatar

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Captain Saurabh Vashisht, one of the eight Indian Navy veterans who were detained by Qatar on espionage charges, returned to his hometown Dehradun after months of captivity. He said that the feeling of returning home was difficult to put into words.

While speaking exclusively to ANI, Vashisht said, “It is very difficult to explain it in words. Every day for the past 17 months, we 8 Indian Navy soldiers have longed and hoped to get back with our families.”

“I want to express endless joy and gratitude to all the people responsible for us being back with our families. This would not have been possible without the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was because of his personal involvement and interaction with Qatar MEA that I have been able to see the light of the day today,” he said.

“The credit goes out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, EAM S Jaishankar, the External Affairs Ministry, and the Indian Embassy. When I reached here, the first phone call I made to my wife, there were no conversations, only emotions flowing,” he added.

He further added, “My parents couldn’t believe the situation when I video-called them. It is that something impossible has become possible.”

After 18 months of captivity, Saurabh Vashisht set foot on his homeland along with seven other detained Indian Navy veterans on Monday after their death sentence was commuted earlier after New Delhi’s diplomatic intervention.

Other men, Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and Sailor Ragesh, were detained in August 2022, along with Captain Saurabh Vashisht.

Amid desperate pleas by the anxious kin of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilize all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.

On December 28, 2023, Qatar’s Court of Appeal commuted the death penalty awarded to all eight men in October 2023. The eight Indian nationals had been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine program. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatari court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.

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