In a recent surge of misinformation on social media, false claims have circulated suggesting that Qatar has announced the cancellation of the death sentence for eight Indian nationals, including former navy officials. The India TV Fact Check team has thoroughly investigated the matter and found these claims to be inaccurate. As of now, the case is still ongoing, and there has been no official statement from Qatar regarding the cancellation of the death sentence.
The controversy surrounds a court decision in Qatar on October 26, 2023, which sentenced eight Indians, including seven retired naval officers and a sailor, to death. They were employed by the private company Al Dahra and were arrested in August the previous year, accused of espionage related to a submarine program on behalf of Israel. An appeal against the death sentence has been filed, and a higher court in Qatar has admitted the plea.
Interestingly, on December 1, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaged with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai.
The misinformation stemmed from a Twitter handle (@HarbirSinghSuri), formerly known as X, on November 30, 2023, claiming "breaking news" of Qatar canceling the death sentence for the eight individuals and emphasizing, "India's friendship is more important." Notably, this handle is followed by Prime Minister Modi.
India TV Fact Check conducted a thorough investigation and found the viral claim to be false. No official announcement has been made by Qatar regarding the cancellation of the death sentence for the Indian nationals. A keyword search yielded no credible news reports supporting this claim or any official statement emphasizing the significance of India's friendship, as asserted in the viral post.
Furthermore, journalist Abhinandan Mishra from Dainik Bhaskar, who is actively covering the case, tweeted on December 1, 2023, revealing that the hearing took place on November 30, 2023. He highlighted that, for the first time, the former Indian navy officials were given the opportunity to speak and address the court.
Additionally, Hindustan Times reported on December 1, 2023, quoting Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar. The Admiral stated that the Indian government is making comprehensive efforts to ensure the welfare of the former Indian Navy personnel sentenced to death in Qatar. He reassured the public that the government is putting forth every effort to bring them back.
In light of these facts, it is crucial to rely on verified sources and accurate information to avoid the spread of misinformation, particularly in sensitive cases with serious consequences. The India TV Fact Check team emphasizes the importance of fact-checking and responsible social media usage.