India has formally lodged an appeal against the death sentences handed to eight former Indian Navy personnel by a court in Qatar. The government is actively working on constructing a robust legal counterargument to secure the release of the ex-Navy personnel. Simultaneously, New Delhi is employing diplomatic channels, leveraging its strong ties with Qatar and other influential nations like Italy, the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, and the UAE, to seek a diplomatic solution.
Following the filing of the appeal, Indian authorities, including diplomats, have engaged in three rounds of meetings with their Qatari counterparts in Doha, as revealed by diplomatic sources. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is prioritizing discussions on this matter in bilateral meetings with counterparts from various countries and global leaders, aiming to exert comprehensive and sustained diplomatic pressure on Qatar. Jaishankar has conveyed to the families of the sentenced individuals that the Indian government places the highest importance on the case, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the matter.
Jaishankar, in his recent meeting with Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani in Rome, addressed the Qatar court sentencing issue. With Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni having a solid rapport with both her Qatari counterpart and Qatar’s Emir, diplomatic observers believe that Italy could play a constructive role in resolving the situation. The elevation of India-Italy ties to a strategic partnership during the G-20 Summit in New Delhi underscores the growing strength of their bilateral relations.
While Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra stated that the Qatar sentencing issue was not a matter of discussion between India and the United States, sources reveal that Jaishankar did discuss the matter during a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Recognizing the US influence over Qatar, owing to their security partnership, India is exploring avenues to garner US support in building diplomatic pressure on Qatar.
There exists an agreement signed in 2015 between India and Qatar regarding the transfer of sentenced prisoners. This agreement, established during Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad-al Thani’s visit to India, allows Indian nationals sentenced in Qatar to serve the remaining part of their jail term in their home country. If India’s appeal for clemency is accepted, these provisions are likely to be invoked.