The eight former Indian navy officers have been accused of spying and leaking sensitive information to Israel.
An Indian submarine firm was allegedly shut down by Qatar after a number of its employees were charged with spying for Israel last August, according to Al Jazeera.
Dahra Global has ceased all operations in the Gulf state after authorities in Doha accused eight staff and former members of the Indian Navy of passing on sensitive documents to Israel, the flagship network said, noting they now could face execution pending a hearing on 3 May.
Up to 75 Indian nationals were informed that their last day of employment at Dahra is on 31 May and must leave Qatar as their visas have expired. According to the terms of their contract, a severance package will be paid to them.
The eight individuals have been held by authorities in Qatar for some eight months pending trial and reports say Qatari authorities are in possession of electronic proof of their alleged espionage for Israel.
The eight have been identified by Indian news reports as Capt Navtej Singh Gill, Capt Birendra Kumar Verma, Capt Saurabh Vasisht, Cdr Amit Nagpal, Cdr Purnendu Tiwari, Cdr Sugunakar Pakala, Cdr Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.
If convicted, they could receive the death penalty, the report said.
They were among a number of former Indian Navy personnel employed by Dahra Global Technologies to work on a highly classified project to construct miniature submarines based on Italian technology with concealment features.
“The case has now been taken up at the highest possible level by the Indian agencies but the Qatari government has not shown any signs of relenting on the issue,” ANI reported, citing official Indian sources.
The sources also informed the news agency that there may exist a possible link between the ‘framing’ of the former Indian Navy officers and Pakistani intelligence agencies.
According to insiders within the corporation, a company dubbed “Advanced Services and Maintenance (ASM)” is taking over all of Dahra Global’s assets. No information has been provided regarding whether the newly formed business would carry on the top-secret project started by the now-disintegrated organisation.
No official comments have come out of India’s political leadership. However, in his weekly press briefings, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “We are engaged with the Qatari authorities.”
“Our embassy in Doha continues to remain in touch with the families. The next day of the hearing is in early May. We are trying to see what can be done before that in connection with that hearing,” he added, as quoted by reports.
Doha News has reached out to the Indian embassy and has yet to receive a response regarding the situation.
When contacted by Doha News, authorities in Doha said they were “aware of the reports” but fell short of providing more information.