Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday welcomed the release of eight Navy veterans who were facing death row in Qatar and said it strengthened the belief in seriousness and the ability of the Modi government to protect its citizens at any cost.

Qatar released the eight jailed former Indian Navy personnel nearly three-and-a-half months after they were handed down death sentences in a case of suspected espionage. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said seven of them returned to India in the early hours of Monday.

“The life of every Indian is precious in the new India. Hearty congratulations to the brave soldiers of the country who returned to India from Qatar. If Modi is there, it is possible (Modi hai toh mumkin hai),” Thakur told reporters in Jalandhar.

Earlier, the senior BJP leader posted on X that the homecoming of Navy veterans was a moment of happiness and it further strengthened the belief in the seriousness and ability of the Modi government to protect its citizens at any cost.

“Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi means the guarantee of life, limb and liberty of the people of India across the globe,” he said, adding that the veterans were detained “under some false charges”.

Thakur recalled that 45 days ago, the death sentence of these former Navy officers was commuted to life imprisonment.

He said earlier 27,000 Indian nationals, including students, were brought back to India from Ukraine and Sikh families were evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban government came to power.

“A special plane was sent to bring back saroops of Guru Granth Sahib with respect. This shows how much importance India has gained at the global level in the last 10 years,” Thakur said.

The Navy veterans were on October 26 given death sentences by Qatar’s Court of First Instance.

The Court of Appeal in Qatar on December 28 commuted the capital punishment and sentenced them to jail terms for varying durations.

The Indian nationals, who worked with the private company Al Dahra, were arrested in August 2022 reportedly in an alleged case of espionage.

Neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi made the charges against the Indian nationals public.

The charges were filed against the eight Indian Navy veterans on March 25 last year and they were tried under Qatari law.

After the Court of Appeal commuted the death sentence, the Indian nationals were given 60 days to appeal against the order of their jail terms.

In May last year, Al-Dhara Global closed its operations in Doha and all those working there (primarily Indians) have since returned home.