"Difficult to explain in words": Navy veteran Saurabh Vashisht on return home from Qatar

After months of captivity, Saurabh Vashisht set foot on his homeland along with seven other detained Indian Navy veterans on Monday after their death sentence was commuted earlier after New Delhi's diplomatic intervention.

ANI | Updated: 14-02-2024 11:27 IST | Created: 14-02-2024 11:27 IST
"Difficult to explain in words": Navy veteran Saurabh Vashisht on return home from Qatar
Navy officer Saurabh Vashishta receives warm welcome in hometown (Image/ANI) . Image Credit: ANI
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Saurabh Vashisht, one of the eight Indian Navy veterans detained by Qatar on espionage charges returned home after months of captivity and said that the feeling of returning back home was difficult to explain into words. While speaking exclusively to ANI, Vashisht said, "It is very difficult to explain it in words. Every day for the past 17 months, we 8 Indian Navy soldiers have longed and hoped to get back with our families."

"I want to express endless joy and endless gratitude to all the people responsible for us to be back with our families. This would not have been possible without the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was because of his personal involvement and interaction with PM Modi with Qatar MEA that I have been able to see the light of the day today," he said. "The credit goes out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, EAM S Jaishankar, External Affairs Ministry and the Indian Embassy. When I reached here, the first phone call I made to my wife, there were no conversations, only emotions flowing," he added.

He further added, "My parents couldn't believe the situation when I video-called them. It is that something impossible has become possible." Saurabh Vashisht, detained by Qatar on espionage charges and later released by the authorities, received a warm welcome from his family in Dehradun yesterday.

RK Vashisht, the father of Saurabh Vashisht, expressed joy and thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for his efforts and said he acted like a form of Lord Hanuman in the safe and sound arrival of his son back to his hometown from overseas. Visuals from his residence depict his family's joyous reunion with the veteran as they received him with a prayer plate and floral garlands.

After 18 months of captivity, Saurabh Vashisht set foot on his homeland along with seven other detained Indian Navy veterans on Monday after their death sentence was commuted earlier after New Delhi's diplomatic intervention. Navy officer Saurabh Vashishta's father, RK Vashisht, while speaking to ANI, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and said that they had brought back his son along with the other officers safely.

"Foreign Minister Jaishankar gave us a lot of assurance. Whenever we used to meet him, he used to assure us and say that our main priority was to bring all eight Indian Navy soldiers back home from Qatar. He told us to trust him and said that he would bring all eight of them back home safe and sound," said RK Vashisht. "We will never forget the efforts of Minister Jaishankar. We will forever be grateful to him. He brought all of them back safely. It is a miracle, just like we used to hear back in the old days. He is a form of Hanumanji who brought them all together safely and soundly. His efforts have borne fruit," said the veteran's father.

"We will follow all the methods and carry out all the procedures, and alternatives and be assured they will come home," he told us reassuringly. We are also grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi because all eight sons have returned to their homeland. This is a result of their efforts and personal involvement, he said.

Saurabh Vashishtha, who returned home to Dehradun after 18 months from Qatar, told ANI, "Due to the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, I have been able to meet my family. I am very happy to meet my family and thank PM Modi and Foreign Minister Jaishankar very much for this." Saurabh Vashishtha's wife, Manasa, also spoke to ANI on her husband's return and said, "Since the beginning, the government of India has supported us. They (govt) said that they'd be putting 100 per cent effort into bringing all 8 men back home and they kept their promise."

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi, EAM S Jaishankar, the Indian embassy in Qatar and the entire govt were very supportive. Like my husband said we don't have words to explain. It feels like the nightmare that began on August 30, 2022, has finally ended and we have gotten up to a new day. We are thankful for the new lease of life," she said. Adding further she said, "I thank the government for the sincere efforts. They really stood by us and we always thought that we were just eight in a billion people but they showed us that each and every person out of the billion is very important."

The men -- Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Sailor Ragesh -- were detained in August 2022. Amid desperate pleas by the anxious kin of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilise all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.

On December 28, 2023, Qatar's Court of Appeal commuted the death penalty awarded to all eight men in October 2023. The eight Indian nationals had 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 partnerships and the "well-being of the Indian community" living in Qatar. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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