'Instead of shouting at cricket matches, why don't we raise our voices for the release of the Indian Navy veterans in Qatar?'
"Securing the release of those charged with spying is a long and arduous task. It can take many years and can leave the accused exhausted and broken," says leading security expert Maroof Raza.
A former officer in the Indian Army, he served in the Grenadiers and Mechanised Forces and has undertaken counter intelligence operations during his career in the army.
He holds a Master's degree in War Studies from Kings College, London and an MPhil in International Relations from Cambridge University.
"The case of the eight naval veterans will have to go through various courts of appeal and the final verdict will rest on some senior government official or on a royal pardon," he tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih in the concluding part of the interview discussing the aftermath of the death sentence given to Indian Navy veterans in Qatar for espionage.
- Part 1 of the Interview: 'India can secure release of naval officers'
What kind of treatment is meted out to those charged with espionage?
Broadly speaking, they live under a lot of stress because of the uncertainty of whether they will get the death sentence and be marched in front of a firing squad one day.
Secondly, under the Geneva and Vienna Conventions, they are given the barest minimum facilities inside prison.
They are allowed certain amount of physical exercise every day and medical check-ups. The living conditions are very substandard. There is nobody to hear them out.
It is a shortcoming on the part of the Indian government that for two months they were not able to get access to the naval officers and sailor.
We already have the case of Mr Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been languishing in a Pakistan jail since 2016. How easy is it to foist allegations of espionage on a foreign national?
Officers and men in the Army, Navy and Air Force gain occupational skills during their long years in service. Some of those skills are naturally transferable to the civilian environment after they retire. Many veterans go on to take up employment in their areas of expertise.
When Kulbhushan Jadhav was caught by the Pakistanis in Baluchistan on charges of spying, I had argued that they were making a naval engineer sound like Lawrence of Arabia by alleging that he entered through the Iran border and travelled through Baluchistan spying on Pakistan.
It's humanly not possible because Pakistan is not some tin pot dictatorship that a spy can travel alone for weeks to reach Quetta, install transmitters there and pass messages.
Any country can arrest anyone for spying. The onus is often on the person to prove that s/he was not spying.
Securing the release of those charged with spying can be a long drawn process. Is it likely to be a long road ahead for the naval veterans?
Since Qatar says it has electronic evidence, why does it not make it public?
We must understand that these countries are police States, unlike India. Even the United States is not very transparent when it comes to those arrested for spying.
Securing the release of those charged with spying is a long and arduous journey. It can take many years and can leave the accused exhausted and broken.
Their families are also severely impacted. Everything they have built over the years gets destroyed on some dubious allegation.
My suggestion to people with expertise is that they should not work on military projects abroad.
These are defence officers with impressive career record. Some have commanded warships. It is terribly unfortunate that they are caught in this nightmare and you say it could be years before they are released?
Their case will have to go through various courts of appeal and the final verdict will rest on some senior government official or on a royal pardon.
We should start a nationwide movement demanding their release. Instead of shouting at cricket matches, why don't we raise our voices for our naval officers and have media campaigns.
We have we been unable to do anything about Kulbhushan Jadhav also.
Everyone has become so insensitive. We are all busy Diwali shopping and don't even know how their families must be.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com