India tells citizens not to risk lives by taking jobs with Russian Army

New Delhi: India on Friday urged its nationals not to risk their lives by taking up support jobs with the Russian Army and said authorities are focused on securing the speedy discharge of all persons in such positions so that they can be brought home.

Indian authorities have stepped up efforts to get all citizens discharged from the Russian Army (Representative Photo)

Following the death of at least two Indians serving with Russian military units fighting on the frontlines with Ukraine, Indian authorities have stepped up efforts to get all citizens discharged from the Russian Army while simultaneously cracking down on agents who recruited people for such jobs on false pretexts.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

There is, however, still no word from Indian authorities on the exact number of citizens serving as support staff in the Russian Army. Reports have suggested the number could be as high as 100. External affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal didn’t provide details in this regard, only saying that authorities are aware of more than 20 cases of individuals who have sought help to be discharged from support jobs.

“Several Indian nationals have been duped to work with the Russian Army. We have strongly taken up the matter with the Russian government for early discharge of such Indian nationals,” Jaiswal told a regular weekly news briefing.

“We once again appeal to Indian nationals to not be swayed by offers made by agents for support jobs with the Russian Army. This is fraught with danger and risk to life,” he said.

India remains committed to the early release of its nationals serving as support staff with the Russian Army and their return home, he added.

On Wednesday, India confirmed the death of 30-year-old Hyderabad resident Mohammed Asfan, who succumbed to injuries sustained while serving with Russian troops on the frontlines with Ukraine. He was the second Indian to be killed after Hemal Ashwinbhai Mangukiya, a 23-year-old resident of Surat in Gujarat, who died in a Ukrainian air strike last month while serving as a “security helper” at Donetsk.

The death of the two Indians and reports of several more being injured, as well as, videos posted by more Indians on social media seeking help to get out of their jobs with the Russian Army, have increased pressure on the government to bring back all citizens reportedly forced to fight alongside Russian troops.

Jaiswal didn’t provide a direct response to several questions regarding the number of Indians serving in the Russian Army and said Indian authorities were earlier aware of about 20 citizens who had reached out for help. “Now we have seen some more, we have seen some videos, we are trying to contact them,” he said without giving details.

“We are doing our best to locate them. We are in touch with the Russian authorities…so that they can be released and discharged early,” he said. “We have been able to get some people discharged after talking to the Russian government, our talks are continuing.”

Jaiswal said strong action has been taken against agents and unscrupulous elements who recruited Indians for jobs in the Russian Army using false pretexts. “The CBI [on Thursday] busted a major human trafficking network, conducting searches in several cities and collecting incriminating evidence. A case of human trafficking has been registered against several agents,” he said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Thursday it busted a human trafficking network spread across several states that lured gullible young men through social media channels and local contacts or agents with the promise of highly paid jobs in Russia.

The trafficked Indians “were trained in combat roles” and deployed against their wishes at frontline bases in the Russia-Ukraine war zone, putting their lives in grave danger, the CBI said. Around 35 instances of victims being sent abroad have been established, and the identity of more victims is being established.

As part of its crackdown, the CBI conducted simultaneous searches at 13 locations in Delhi, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai and Chennai. The agency seized more than Rs.50 lakh, incriminating documents and electronic equipment such as computers and mobile phones.

Jaiswal said authorities are also trying to bring back the bodies of the two Indians who had been killed. “We are in touch with the Russian authorities. The deaths happened…in areas far away from the capital. So, there are certain procedures to be followed,” he said.

Last month, India had advised its citizens to stay away from getting caught up in the Russia-Ukraine conflict following reports that Indian nationals who secured support jobs with the Russian Army had been forced to fight alongside Russian troops.

Latest news
Related news