Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmiri man duped in job scam, induced to join mercenary for Russian army in Ukraine

Family members seeking Azad’s return. [Photo: ETvBharat/Video screngrab]

Another Kashmiri man has gone missing in Russia

Tral: Days after government of India (GoI) advised its citizens to “exercise caution” and “stay away from this conflict” following reports that a few Indians have been forced to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine, family members of a 31-year-old Kashmiri man, Azad Yousuf Kumar, has accused a YouTuber of luring Azad in the name of a job in Dubai and induced Azad as mercenary for Russian army in Ukraine.

Jammu and Kashmir Students Association member Nasir Khuehami told Free Press Kashmir that the association has written to S Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, seeking his helping to get Azad back.

A resident of Poshwan Awantipora Pulwama district of Kashmir, Azad, along with several others, has fallen victim to a fraudulent recruitment scheme, leaving him trapped in Russia and forcibly deployed in the army without his consent.

The ordeal began when Azad came across a YouTube channel named “Baba Vlogs” operated by a consultant named Faisal Khan, based in Dubai.

Faisal purported to offer job opportunities in cooking and cleaning, which align with Azad’s skills. Azad travelled from Mumbai to Sharjah, where he was then provided tickets to Moscow, Russia, the association said.

Upon arrival in Russia, Azad and his companions were made to sign agreements written in Russian, despite not understanding the language and requesting assistance. They were subsequently handed over to the Russian Army, where they underwent a 15-day training before being deployed to the Ukraine border.

Azad’s family is distraught by this deception and is fervently pleading for his safe return, JKSA said.

He has sustained injuries and is currently stranded on the border. The family has provided documentation of the signed agreement in Russian, Azad’s current location, his photograph, and his IMO number, which he has been using to contact them intermittently.

Meanwhile, another Kashmiri Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Hajinar Tangdar area of Kupwara, has gone missing in Russia. Zahoor, employed in a private capacity in Chandigarh, traveled to Russia in December 2023 with Arbaab from Uttar Pradesh and Asfaan from Hyderabad. JKSA has sought assistance in expediting the repatriation process.

Earlier on Friday, GoI advised its citizens to “exercise caution” and “stay away from this conflict” following reports that a few Indians have been allegedly “forced” to fight in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

At a press briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said, “We are aware that a few Indian nationals have signed up for support jobs with the Russian army. The Indian Embassy has regularly taken up this matter with the relevant Russian authorities for their early discharge. We urge all Indian nationals to exercise due caution and stay away from this conflict.”

On Saturday, a report by India Today said three men from Karnataka and one from Telangana were allegedly conned into ‘fighting’ for the Russian army in Ukraine after being promised jobs as security personnel in Russia by a recruiter.

The four men are currently stranded near the war-torn Ukraine border in Russia. In a video message, one of the stranded men, Mohammed Sufiyan from Telangana, reached out for assistance, talking about their ordeal.

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