Updated March 29th, 2024 at 18:38 IST

India in Active Dialogue with Russia to Repatriate Indians Coerced into Combat Roles

India intensifies efforts to secure the release of its nationals trapped in the Russian military, maintaining active communication with Russian authorities.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Russian Volunteer Corps | Image:AP

New Delhi: Efforts to secure the release and repatriation of Indian nationals trapped in the Russian military continue as India maintains active communication with Russian authorities, affirmed Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal during a press briefing on Thursday. Addressing concerns about the situation, Jaiswal emphasized, "We are in constant dialogue with Russian authorities, strongly advocating for the swift release of our nationals."  

Providing an update on the affected individuals, Jaiswal conveyed, "As previously mentioned, two individuals tragically lost their lives. Their mortal remains have been repatriated to India and handed over to their families. The death toll remains unchanged at two." However, the exact number of Indian nationals still serving in the Russian military remains unclear, underscoring the urgency of the ongoing diplomatic efforts.


Meanwhile, Russia conducted aerial bombings on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, marking the first such attack since 2022. The airstrike, conducted on March 28, resulted in the tragic loss of at least one civilian life and left 16 others wounded, according to local officials. The indiscriminate nature of the bombings caused widespread damage, targeting residential buildings and even damaging the city's institute for emergency surgery.  

Escalation of attacks  

In the past few days, Russia has intensified its assaults, launching multiple missile barrages on the capital city of Kyiv and targeting vital energy infrastructure across Ukraine. These aggressive actions appear to be in retaliation for recent Ukrainian aerial attacks on the Russian border region of Belgorod. While sporadic attacks have been commonplace throughout the conflict, the scale and intensity of recent assaults underscore the escalating tensions in the region. 

Ukrainian troops. | Credit- AP

Kharkiv finds itself situated in the heart of the conflict zone, straddling the front line where Ukrainian and Russian forces have been engaged in fierce battles for over two years. Since Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the region has been a hotspot for military confrontations, with both sides frequently exchanging fire and launching attacks. Missiles and drones have become a common sight in the skies above Kharkiv as the conflict continues to ravage the region.  


Human trafficking network unveiled amidst recruitment scam  

In a significant revelation, the Ministry of External Affairs disclosed the unearthing of a human trafficking network operating across several Indian cities, preying on vulnerable individuals with promises of lucrative overseas employment opportunities. The disclosure followed a recent crackdown by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which exposed a nefarious scheme luring young Indians into combat roles in conflict zones like the Russia-Ukraine war.   


The CBI conducted coordinated raids at 13 locations spanning Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai, and Chennai, targeting individuals involved in the trafficking network. The agency identified at least 35 instances of victims being deceived and dispatched abroad, with two confirmed cases of fatalities among those coerced into serving in the Russian army.  

According to investigations, the trafficking syndicate employed social media platforms such as YouTube and local intermediaries to entice unsuspecting individuals with promises of high-paying jobs in Russia. Subsequently, victims were subjected to combat training and deployed to frontline positions in the Russia-Ukraine conflict zone against their will, exposing them to perilous circumstances.  


The ongoing probe has resulted in the detention of multiple suspects for interrogation, with efforts underway to ascertain the identities of additional victims ensnared in the trafficking racket. Meanwhile, authorities have issued a public appeal cautioning against falling victim to fraudulent recruitment agencies and deceptive agents peddling false promises of overseas employment. 


Published March 29th, 2024 at 18:38 IST