Ukraine war : Soldiers from India ‘led’ Astray by Russian Operatives

Several Indians have been deceived by agents to join Russian forces in the conflict with Ukraine, with reports indicating that one of them was tragically killed in a missile attack.

Last week, Hemal Ashwinbhai from Gujarat state passed away in a missile attack, as reported by The Hindu newspaper over the weekend.

Hemal’s father informed the BBC on 23 February that he had a conversation with his son three days prior. He mentioned being stationed 20-22km (12-13 miles) inside Ukraine’s border and would contact him every few days when he had mobile network coverage.

The families of the remaining men are now seeking help from the federal government to bring them back home.

The men, aged between 22 and 31 and hired as “helpers in the military establishment in Russia,” were allegedly sent to the battlefield under the pretext of “training,” according to their families.

Reports from India indicate that many Indian individuals have enlisted in the Russian military. According to a source from the Russian defence ministry, around 100 individuals were recruited in the past year. The BBC has contacted the Russian Embassy in Delhi, but they have not received a response yet.

India’s foreign ministry has confirmed that some Indian nationals have signed up for support roles with the Russian army.

A social media platform allegedly recruited a man from Uttar Pradesh

Every case reported to the Indian Embassy in Moscow has been promptly addressed with the Russian authorities, while those brought to the ministry’s attention have been raised with the Russian Embassy in New Delhi. According to a statement by the ministry, a number of Indians have already been discharged.

The ministry advised all Indian nationals to be cautious and avoid the conflict.

See also  Three Chinese Warlords Supported by the Junta have been turned up to Beijing by Myanmar

The families of these men were shocked by videos showing how they were deceived by agents and sent to the battlefield. All of them come from humble backgrounds – their parents and siblings work as tuk-tuk drivers, tea sellers, or handcart sellers.

According to victims and families, agents requested 300,000 rupees ($3,619; £2,857), with the promise of a Russian passport after a few months of army service. Agents are said to be recruiting individuals from India, UAE, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, charging fees as high as 1.2m rupees.

The BBC interviewed some of their family members, who mentioned that the men were enticed by the prospect of better pay and were unaware of the situation they were entering. The identities of the individuals remaining in Russia are being kept confidential to ensure their safety.

“My 28-year-old son was employed at a packaging company in Dubai. He and three friends came across a video from an agent advertising job opportunities in Russia with a salary range of 90,000 to 100,000 rupees, which was much higher than their current earnings of 35,000 to 40,000 rupees. They transferred 300,000 rupees to the agent using loans. His father, who sells tea and eggs on a handcart in the state of Karnataka, pleaded for help to bring his son back, breaking down on the phone during an interview with BBC Hindi.

According to one individual, a security position was assured to him by the recruitment agent

His experience is similar to that of individuals from Telangana, Gujarat, Kashmir, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh, all reportedly misled. Just one individual managed to flee Moscow and make it back home.

An individual from Uttar Pradesh, speaking from a secure location in Moscow in a video recorded at the end of January, mentioned that they were brought to the location by BabaVlog, a YouTube channel operated by an Indian, and were promised a monthly salary of 150,000 rupees. We were not informed about being drafted into the army. The BBC attempted to contact the channel but did not get a reply.

See also  Millions of Supermarket Chickens get Burns from Excrement

The individuals who were reportedly misled do not have any experience in war combat. One man from Uttar Pradesh, wearing army fatigues, claimed in a video that he was recruited via a social media platform.

While in Moscow, we signed a contract in Russian and ended up being deployed as soldiers to the battlefield. “We’ve been deceived,” the man exclaimed, alleging that he and two other Indians have sustained combat injuries, pointing with his seemingly injured right hand.

“Please help us leave this location. Or else, we’ll be sent to the front. Artillery fire and drones are falling everywhere. We lack any experience in engaging in warfare. “We find ourselves in this predicament because of the agents,” he adds.

Reporting from the Russia-Ukraine border, a man from Kashmir shared his experience of being stranded in Mariupol in Ukraine with an Indian companion and nine people from Nepal and Cuba. He mentioned sustaining a foot injury while training.

“My commander repeatedly instructed me to use my right hand to shoot, use my left hand to shoot, shoot above, shoot down,” he remembered.

“I had never handled a firearm before. It was freezing, and holding the gun in my left hand, I accidentally shot my foot.

The sibling of one of the individuals mentioned that he was unsure if the individuals were part of the Wagner private army or the Russian army. They are approximately 40km (24 miles) away from the Ukraine border. “They have been assured of receiving Russian citizenship within three months.”

Shaikh Mohammed Tahir from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, was the only one who managed to avoid training or deployment in the war zone. “I worked in a car battery workshop here,” mentioned the 24-year-old. Last week, he made his way back to India.

See also  A Photograph of World's Tallest Man Shaking Hands with World's Shortest Man

The matter gained attention when Asaduddin Owaisi, an MP from Hyderabad city, brought it up. On January 23rd, he reached out to the foreign ministry, requesting government assistance to repatriate the individuals.

Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of India’s main opposition Congress party, claimed that around 100 Indians have been enlisted in the Russian army as assistants in the last year.

Surprisingly, a few of them have been compelled to join Russia’s forces on the Russia-Ukraine border. According to some workers, their passports and documents were seized, leaving them stranded and unable to return home,” he explained.

In 2022, as the conflict started, there were reports of some Indians offering to join the Ukrainian army. However, Indians have been reported to be serving in combat roles on the Russian side for the first time.

The BBC interviewed an Indian individual in Russia who previously served near the Ukraine border and has since left the military. According to him, the Russian army was known for being transparent and sharing its contracts online. However, he mentioned that individuals unfamiliar with Russia were being misled by operatives.

About The Author