Hyderabad Man, Duped Into Fighting Ukraine War, Dies In Russia

Mohammed Afsan from Hyderabad is allegedly one of nearly two dozen Indian men who have been forced into fighting Russia's war against Ukraine.

Hyderabad Man, Duped Into Fighting Ukraine War, Dies In Russia

Afsan was one of the men whose ordeal had been highlighted by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi last month.

Hyderabad/New Delhi:

An Indian who was duped into joining Russia's war against Ukraine has been killed. In a post on X on Wednesday, the Indian Embassy in Moscow confirmed the death of Mohammed Asfan from Hyderabad, but has not stated the cause or mentioned what he was doing in the country. 

"We have learnt about the tragic death of an Indian national Shri Mohammed Asfan. We are in touch with the family and Russian authorities. Mission will make efforts to send his mortal remains to India," the embassy said in the post. 

The family of Afsan, who is among nearly two dozen Indians who were taken to Russia on the pretext of being given high-paying jobs, said they were informed about his death by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. 

Mr Owaisi was among the first to highlight the issue last month. On February 21, the AIMIM leader had said he had written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar about men from states like Telangana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh who were cheated in this manner and were forced to take part in the war. 

On February 29, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that at least 20 Indians trapped in Russia had contacted Indian authorities and that the government was doing its best to bring them back.

The Net-Savvy Agent

Many of the men who were trapped in Russia had allegedly been cheated by a Dubai-based agent, Faisal Khan, who runs a YouTube channel called 'Baba Vlogs'. The channel has over 3 lakh subscribers and, in one of his videos, Khan had shown seven passports and said, "We are working with the Russian army and seven people have received work permits for the country."

The father of one of the young men, Abdul Naeem, had said last month that his son and three of his friends used to work in Dubai and had got in touch with Khan. The agent had promised them high-paying jobs as security guards in Russia and had taken Rs 3 lakh each from them. They had been taken to Russia in December last year, and then pushed into the war after being tricked into signing some documents in Russian..

The Indian men, some of whom have been given basic weapons training, were allegedly posted in and around Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv, Donetsk and Mariupol. A man from Kashmir had also suffered a bullet injury to the leg. Accounts differ on whether they are fighting as part of the Russian Army or the mercenary organisation, Wagner Group.

Seven More Appeal For Help

NDTV had reported on Tuesday on seven men from Punjab and Haryana appealing to the Indian government for help, claiming they were being forced into fighting the war against Ukraine. 

Harsh, 19, from Haryana's Karnal, recorded a video explaining that he and the other men were taken to Belarus by an agent and then abandoned there, after they couldn't give him more money. He said they had  been handed over to the Russian authorities, who made them sign documents. "Now they are forcing us to fight in the war against Ukraine," Harsh says in the video.

The teenager's family said he had gone in search of work and was caught in Russia. "He told us he had been caught by Russian soldiers who threatened him with 10 years of jail and recruited him. He said he was forced to do military training," his mother said.