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Two Indian nationals killed in Ukraine conflict – foreign ministry

New Delhi has raised the matter with Moscow and a probe is underway into the human trafficking network that lured Indians to Russia

New Delhi has announced that two Indians have died in the Ukraine conflict, urging its citizens to “exercise caution” as human traffickers are allegedly luring people to the war zone by promising them lucrative jobs with the Russian military. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said it had “pressed the Russian authorities,” including the Ministry of Defense, for the early repatriation of the remains of the two people who died in the war zone. Their names have not been revealed.

The foreign ministry also stated that it was seeking the “early release and return” of all Indian nationals who are believed to be fighting alongside the Russian Army. “India has also demanded that there be a verified stop to any further recruitment of our nationals by the Russian Army. Such activities would not be in consonance with our partnership,” it added. 

The development comes three months after India’s top investigative agency uncovered a human trafficking ring that brought young Indians to Russia with the promise of lucrative employment opportunities.

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FILE PHOTO.
New Delhi cracks down on human trafficking network luring Indians to the front line

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said it had conducted raids in a number of locations across India, including Delhi, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai, and Chennai. It has also initiated legal proceedings against several visa consultancy firms and agents implicated in the scheme.

Following the CBI revelations, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said action had been initiated against “agents and unscrupulous elements who recruited [people] on false pretexts and promises.”

“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 added then.

People were allegedly lured to Russia on the promise of well-paid jobs and assurances of safety, with no mention of being deployed in the active conflict zone. The agent responsible for recruitment reportedly charged each individual a hefty 350,000 rupees ($4,230) for facilitating their travel to Russia. 

The investigation was initiated after the tragic death of 30-year-old Mohammed Afsan from Hyderabad earlier this year. He was allegedly misled into traveling to Russia and signing a contract with the Russian military. 


READ MORE: Russia not ‘recruiting’ Indian citizens – Moscow

Moscow has yet to comment on the development. In May, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russian authorities have not been “recruiting” Indian citizens. “As for recruitment, as you mentioned, none of the [Russian] officials are involved in this,” Zakharova said, when asked about the matter by Indian media. She added that Moscow would look into “any specific information” provided to it.

RT has contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry for further comment. 

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