Indians forced to fight in Ukraine War, families plea for Government help

At least three Indians allege they were conned into working as “army security helpers” in Russia, only to be forced to fight alongside Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. One victim described being given basic weapons training and thrown into combat near Donetsk, facing bullets and fearing for his life, according to a report by The Hindu.

The families of these men, from states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Punjab, have reached out to authorities for help, including to Member of Parliament, Asaduddin Owaisi. They claim the men were promised jobs with high salaries but ended up trapped in a dangerous situation.

One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he and two others were recruited through a YouTube channel and transported to Russia in November 2023. After signing contracts promising non-combat roles, they were allegedly given weapons training and deployed to the war zone in January, the report added.

“We faced bullets 7-8 times,” he recounted, describing a close call where a companion was killed. He managed to escape but remains undocumented and fearful in Russia, as per the report.

“On November 13, we were admitted into a camp and taken to a deserted place around two-and-half hours away from Moscow. We contacted the Indian agents and they assured us that we would be posted as helpers. We lived in tents and were trained to handle weapons. On January 4, we were sent to Donetsk to fight,” he said, as quoted in the report.

He said that after they were forced to fight, he found an opportunity to escape and threw away his weapon. “But I was caught and threatened at gunpoint. They asked me to transport goods from one building to another. The commander told us to walk maintaining a gap of five metres so that we do not become easy targets. In the short walk, we faced bullets 7 to 8 times, and a local accompanying me was killed. On January 22, I managed to flee and got admitted to a hospital with frostbite injuries,” the victim said, as quoted by The Hindu.

While some Indians volunteered to fight for Ukraine’s International Legion, this instance marks the first reported case of Indians forced to fight for Russia. The families accuse an agent named Faisal Khan of misleading the men, and pleas to the Indian Embassy in Moscow have reportedly gone unanswered, the report added.

The Embassy declined to comment on this specific case but acknowledged following up on complaints. However, they mentioned challenges due to some individuals wanting to stay abroad despite the situation.

This incident raises concerns about exploitation and misinformation targeting vulnerable Indians seeking work abroad. The families urge the government to take immediate action to ensure the safety and repatriation of these men.

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Published: 21 Feb 2024, 11:58 AM IST

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