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Forced on frontlines of Ukraine-Russia war, stranded Indians seek Centre's intervention to return home

The four Indian men were offered security help jobs in Russian army by agents in Dubai who charged each one of them Rs 3.5 lakhs for the settlement.
Last Updated 22 February 2024, 10:59 IST

Four Indian nationals have recently sought help from the Government of India to rescue them from Russia. In what is being seen as a "fake army job racket", a Dubai-based recruitment firm directed the four Indians to go to Russia where it ensured them of their jobs as "army security helpers".

One of the four has been identified as 22-year-old Mohammed Sufiyan who hails from Narayanpet district in Telangana, while the other three men are from Kalaburgi in Karnataka.

The four men apparently contacted agents from Dubai last year. These agents lured the now stranded men in Russia, into high paying jobs. The four flew to Dubai from Chennai International Airport in mid 2023. The agents allegedly took Rs 3.5 lakhs from each of the four Indian men after which they returned to India in November last year after meeting the were reportedly apprised about security helper jobs in Russian army.

The very next month i.e., in December 2023 the four traveled to Russia. Days after their arrival, Sufiyan's family received a video message where he is seen pleading the Indian government to help the four men because they were being forced to on the frontlines of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. According to TOI, the message was sent from the Ukraine-border where the men are seen wearing a uniform, as they said, "Please save us. We are victims of a hi-tech fraud[sic]."

Sufiyan's brother Syed Salman said, "When my brother Sufiyan spoke with me 15 days back, he said they were just 40-km away from the Ukraine border. He said they were sent there much against their will, and that they have been deceived. Sufiyan got a rare opportunity and he used a mobilephone of a Russian armyman to send the message. He begged that he and other should be helped to return to Indian at any cost."

The families of the four men now fear that they have been forcefully enrolled into Wagner Group— a Russian-government funded private military company that was registered in 2022. The TOI report then mentions that apart from the four men, at least 60 other Indian nationals signed documents in Russian language— while they were also lured into the army security helper jobs.

It is yet to be ascertained that what would be the legal ways that the Indian government might consider to get these stranded men back from Russia.

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(Published 22 February 2024, 10:59 IST)

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