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Context: Recently Eight former Indian Navy officers have been sentenced to death in Qatar.
What options does India have in the case of Indian Navy officers?
• We can continue legal appeals to ensure a fair trial and examine the evidence against the eight individuals.
• We can seek high-level political intervention, potentially at the Prime Minister’s level, to request a pardon or commutation of the death sentences.
• Consider filing a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a last resort, similar to the approach taken in the case of Commander Jadhav in Pakistan.
• India and Qatar have traditionally good bilateral ties. There have been regular high-level visits, Joint Commission Meetings.
• Economic Relations: Central to the ties between New Delhi and Doha is LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), the fuel on which India is critically dependent — and of which Qatar is the predominant supplier. In 2008, Qatar agreed to invest US$5 billion in India’s energy sector. A deep-sea gas pipeline from Qatar to India through Oman has also been proposed.
• . In 2021-22, India’s bilateral trade with Qatar was US$ 15.03 billion. India’s key exports to Qatar include cereals, copper articles, iron and steel articles, vegetables, fruits.
• The 2008 Defense Cooperation Agreement is a crucial aspect of the relationship between India and Qatar, involving mutual training and visits, particularly for the Qatari Emiri Naval Forces in India.
• Joint military exercises: Za’ir-Al-Bahr (Roar of Sea) is a naval exercise between the Indian and Qatar Navy.
• There is a large Indian community in Qatar of over 8 lakh.
• Secrecy of the Trial: The precise nature of the charges against the eight detained ex-Indian Navy officers is not yet known. Their solitary confinement has led to speculation of their detention in connection with a security-related offence.
• Qatar’s alignment with Iran and its support for groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas have caused tensions with India.
• India’s participation in US-led initiatives like I2U2 and the IMEEEC has contributed to strained relations with Qatar, especially in light of the Hamas attacks and the Abraham Accords.
• Navigating the recent crisis in India-Qatar relations requires a careful and balanced approach with increased Diplomatic engagement the key to resolve the dispute. India must balance its interests with Qatar and other Gulf countries.