Indians tricked by promise of work in Russia die fighting in Ukraine, investigators say

World

Two young Indian men who were expecting to work as “helpers” in the Russian army have instead died fighting in Ukraine, their families have said.

They are among around 35 young Indians tricked by promises of a job, only to find themselves trafficked to the frontline of the war, according to investigators in New Delhi.

The death of one of the men has been confirmed by the Indian embassy in Russia.

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India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said on Thursday that it has broken up a “major human-trafficking network” operating across several states and targeting people using social media platforms and through local agents.

The CBI said in a statement: “The trafficked Indian nationals were trained in combat roles and deployed at front bases in Russia-Ukraine War Zone against their wishes.”

Some of the victims were also “grievously injured”, it said.

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An unidentified number of suspects have been taken for questioning by investigators, who seized 50m rupees (£471,000), documents and electronic records, in a search that included locations in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The Indian foreign ministry has said every case of Indians being tricked into fighting in the war had been “strongly taken up” with Moscow, and it had demanded they be discharged.

Press-ganged victims

Last month, the families of two Kashmiri men, Azad Yousuf Kumar, 31, and Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh, 30, said they had been lured to Dubai on the promise of jobs before being transported to Russia by fraudulent recruitment agencies

Once there, they were ordered to fight as mercenaries for Russia on the border with Ukraine, the relatives said.

Image:
The father of Azad Yousuf Kumar says his son was injured after being ordered to fight for Russia against his will. Pic: Rex Features

Mr Kumar had been injured, his family said.

The family of another, Hemil Mangukiya, said the 23-year-old, who was lured to an apparent security job in Russia in December, told them he was sent to a month-long military training camp and then taken to the frontlines.

There, they told the Guardian, he was made to dig trenches, carry ammunition and operate rifles and machine guns before he was killed by a missile strike somewhere in Ukraine late last month.

The Russian foreign ministry has not responded to requests for comment.

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New Delhi and Moscow have enjoyed a close relationship for decades and India has refused to condemn Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin over the war with Ukraine, urging the two sides to end the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

India has also stepped up its purchase of cheap Russian oil, much to the frustration of the West.

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