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India arrests four for duping men to fight for Russian army

The accused were allegedly luring young men to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or university admissions only to force them to fight for Russian army

Russian Army servicemen stand near a mobile recruiting centre, during an exhibition of military hardware used in the course of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Rostov-on-Don, Russia March 3, 2024. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

By: Shajil Kumar

Indian authorities have arrested four people accused of “trafficking” citizens of the country to fight for the Russian army in Ukraine.

They have been accused of luring young men to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or university admissions only to force them to fight in the war in Ukraine.

About 35 Indian men were duped in this manner, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said in March.

At least two Indians have been killed during the two-year-long conflict.

The four Indian nationals arrested were a translator, a person facilitating visa processing and the booking of airline tickets as well as two “main recruiters” for the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the CBI said on Tuesday.

The investigation “is continuing against other accused persons who are part of this international network of human traffickers,” the CBI said.

The arrests come two months after the investigators conducted raids across 13 locations in India and detained several people for questioning.

The families of two Indian men who were killed in the war have told Reuters they had gone to Russia expecting to work as “helpers” in the army.

Several Indian recruits told AFP in February that they were lured into joining up by promises of high salaries and Russian passports before being shipped to the frontlines.

The soldiers said they had been promised non-combatant roles but were trained to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons before being sent to Ukraine.

India’s foreign ministry says each case has been “strongly taken up” with Russia. Moscow has not responded to repeated requests from Reuters for comment.

Indian authorities had earlier said it was working to secure discharges for around 20 of its nationals in the Russian army.

Unemployment remains high in India despite rapid economic growth and huge numbers seek work abroad each year, including thousands who had sought employment in Israel after labour shortages sparked by the war against Palestinian militants in Gaza.

India has refused to condemn Russia over the war, calling instead for dialogue and diplomacy to end the conflict.

The two countries have enjoyed a close relationship for decades, trading in items from fighter jets to tea.

India has also increased its purchase of cheap Russian oil since the war, with Moscow emerging as its top oil supplier in the last financial year for the second year in a row. (Agencies)

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