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The eight Indians have been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022. India is exploring all legal options in this regard, the government said. Representational image. Image Credit: Shutterstock

NEW DELHI: A Qatar court has announced the death penalty for eight Indians arrested in the country last year, the Indian government said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are deeply shocked by the verdict,” the statement said, adding that India is exploring all legal options in this regard.

Neither the Indian nor Qatari government has officially said what the eight men were charged with.

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“We have initial information that the Court of First Instance of Qatar has today passed a judgement in the case involving 8 Indian employees of Al Dahra company,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in an official press release.

“We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options,” it added.

This matter is very important to us, the MEA said adding that and they have been keeping a close eye on it.

“We attach high importance to this case, and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities,” the MEA release said.

“Due to the confidential nature of proceedings of this case, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this juncture,” it added.

The eight Indian nationals have been imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022.

A spokesperson for India's foreign ministry did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Thursday's government statement said that it would "not be appropriate to make any further comments at this stage" due to the "confidential nature of the proceedings".

Indian foreign ministry officials, including Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, have earlier said that the exact nature of the charges against the eight Indian men is "not entirely clear".

New Delhi had been granted consular access to the eight Indians and had been working to secure their release. The Indian nationals had their first trial in late March.

Meetu Bhargava, who is the sister of one the officers detained and lives in Gwalior, sought help from the Indian government to bring her brother back.

In a post on X on June 8 she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.“These Ex Navy officers are the pride of the nation & again I request our Hon’ble Prime Minister with folded hands that it is high time that they all are brought back to India immediately without any further delay pl. @narendramodi @AmitShah @rajnathsingh @MOS_MEA” she posted on X.

More than 800,000 Indian citizens live and work in Qatar.