Hyderabad youth Mohammad Imran who was tricked into joining Russian army killed in war

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale  - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

A second Indian national has lost his life while serving with the Russian Army in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, intensifying the pressure on Indian authorities to identify and repatriate citizens allegedly coerced into fighting alongside Russian troops after initially taking up support roles.

Mohammad Imran, the elder brother of the deceased, Mohd Asfan, disclosed that Asfan traveled to Russia in November 2023 on a flight from Chennai via Sharjah. The 30-year-old from Hyderabad reportedly suffered serious injuries, along with two other Indians, in hostilities in a conflict zone last month. Asfan is survived by his wife and two children, according to his family.

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The Indian embassy in Moscow confirmed the tragic death of Mohammed Asfan, expressing condolences and assuring that efforts would be made to repatriate his mortal remains. However, specific details about the circumstances leading to Asfan’s death or his deployment to the conflict zone were not provided by the embassy.

Previously, 23-year-old Hemal Ashwinbhai Mangukiya from Surat, Gujarat, serving as a “security helper” with the Russian Army, was killed in a Ukrainian air strike at Donetsk, a part of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

Imran, Asfan’s elder brother, revealed that Asfan had contacted a travel agent named BabaVlogs, who offered him a job in Russia, promising that he wouldn’t be deployed on the frontlines but would assist the Russian Army. Asfan signed a one-year contract on November 13, 2023, unaware of the potential risks.

After being unable to contact Asfan for a week, another brother, Mohammed Irfan, sought the assistance of Hyderabad MP and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi. The family received confirmation of Asfan’s death from Owaisi, who has taken up the cases of several young men from Telangana serving with the Russian Army.

Reports indicate that a letter from a recruitment agent falsely claimed Asfan’s previous employment in a semiconductor firm in Hyderabad, offering him a job in Russia’s IT services sector. However, Asfan’s family clarified that he worked in a clothes store until September and lacked IT skills.

Efforts have been escalated by Indian authorities to repatriate all citizens serving with the Russian military, although the exact number of Indians in the Russian Army remains unclear. The external affairs ministry confirmed that 20 Indian nationals had approached the Indian mission in Moscow for help with their discharge. The issue has become more complicated due to recruitment from locations such as Dubai.

In addition to BabaVlogs, various agents are accused of deceiving young men from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, sending them to Russia for support roles in the army. The external affairs ministry has emphasized that each case reported to the Indian Embassy in Moscow has been taken up with Russian authorities.

Amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, India has cautioned its citizens against becoming entangled in the conflict, especially after reports revealed that some Indians with support jobs in the Russian Army were forced to fight alongside Russian troops.

Earlier reports also indicated the recruitment of up to 200 men from Nepal by the Russian military. In December, Nepal’s foreign ministry acknowledged the deaths of six Nepalese nationals serving in the Russian Army during the war with Ukraine.

As the war sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its third year, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has verified 30,457 civilian casualties, including 10,582 deaths and 19,875 injuries.

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