New Delhi: After a Qatar court commuted the death sentences of eight ex-Indian Navy personnel, foreign affairs expert Sushant Sareen has called it the victory of Indian diplomacy.

He noted that Qatar knows well that the death penalty for eight Indian ex-Navy officials will affect the ties between India and Qatar. He said the Indian government did the right thing by respecting the judiciary of Qatar and using diplomacy.

In an interview with ANI, Sushant Sareen said, "I think I will call it the victory of diplomacy as the Government of India used its power of politics and diplomacy for this case and held backdoor talks with the Qatari government. They did not reveal the talks in front of the media. PM Modi, External Affairs Minister and our embassy was involved in the process."

"Qatar knows this very well that the death penalty to eight ex-Indian Navy personnel will affect the relations of India and Qatar. They (Qatar) will also not want this. Diplomacy was also used and Indian government did right thing by respecting the judiciary of Qatar. Usually, people adhere to diplomacy and do not follow judiciary. However, Indian government operated on both tracks."

He said that Indian government will now try to bring these eight ex-Navy personnel back to India.

Describing the future steps that can be taken by the Indian government, Sareen said, "I believe we have won only half the war. So far, the pertaining danger has been avoided. However, they still continue to remain in prison. I think we will try to bring them back to India at an earliest. We will use the judiciary of Qatar and our ties with Qatar. I think there are two options for it.

"One is that if an Indian gets sentence in Qatari court, he or she can serve the prison term in India and if this happens, they will come to India. They will come under Indian judiciary's jurisdictions and case will move forward and they may get relief.

Second option, is that the royal family of Qatar can pardon them and they can return to India. The next step will be to ensure how this happens," he added.

The Qatari Court on Thursday commuted the death penalty sentence of eight ex-Indian naval officers it had arrested last year in the Dahra Global case, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a press statement. The sentence has now been reduced to jail terms.

Describing the judgement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, "We have noted the verdict today of the Court of Appeal of Qatar in the Dahra Global case, in which the sentences have been reduced."

The MEA also said that the detailed judgement in the case is awaited, and the government is in close touch with the legal team in Qatar.

MEA added, "The detailed judgement is awaited. We are in close touch with the legal team as well as the family members to decide on the next steps. Our Ambassador to Qatar and other officials were present in the Court of Appeal today, along with the family members. We have stood by them since the beginning of the matter and we will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also continue to take up the matter with the Qatari authorities."

The eight Indian nationals have been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022 and were accused of allegedly spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that have not yet been made public officially.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnership and the "well-being of the Indian community" living in Qatar.