Indians in war zone: CBI busts traffickers | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Indians in war zone: CBI busts traffickers

By, New Delhi
Mar 08, 2024 05:26 AM IST

CBI busts human trafficking networks luring Indians with job promises in Russia, sending them to fight in Ukraine; 35 victims identified.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday said it has busted major human trafficking networks operating across India that targeted young people with promises of lucrative jobs abroad, including in Russia and Ukraine, but sent them off to people who then forced them to fight on the front lines of the war between those countries.

The agency conducted searches at 13 locations in Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai and Chennai (AP)
The agency conducted searches at 13 locations in Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai and Chennai (AP)

The agency conducted searches at 13 locations in Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai and Chennai. It identified at least 35 instances of victims sent abroad by the alleged traffickers.

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“These traffickers have been operating as an organised network and were luring Indian nationals through social media channels like YouTube etc, and also through their local contacts or agents for highly paid jobs in Russia,” a CBI spokesperson said. “Thereafter, the trafficked Indian nationals were trained in combat roles and deployed at front bases in the Russia-Ukraine war zone against their wishes, thus putting their lives in grave danger.”

Some victims were grievously injured in the war zone, the spokesperson said.

At least two Indian nationals are known to have been killed while serving with the Russian army. The Indian embassy in Moscow confirmed the death of Indian national Mohammed Asfan in a post on X on March 6. The 30-year-old from Hyderabad travelled to Russia late last year and reports have said he was seriously injured along with two other Indians in hostilities in a conflict zone last month.

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

CBI registered a case on Wednesday against private visa consultancy firms, agents and others engaged in trafficking Indians to Russia under the guise of employment, the spokesperson said.

“So far around 35 instances of victims sent abroad have been established. The identity of more trafficking victims are also being established. Investigation is continuing.”

Four accused consultancies or agents were named: 24x7 RAS Overseas Foundation and its director Suyash Mukut; OSD Bros Travels and Visa Services Pvt Ltd. and its director Rakesh Pandey; Adventure Visa Services Pvt Ltd and its director Manjeet Singh; and Baba Vlogs Overseas Recruitment Solutions Pvt Ltd. and its director Faisal Abdul Mutalib Khan, also known as Baba.

Cash amounting to over 50 lakh, incriminating documents, electronics and CCTV footage were recovered during Thursday’s raids, the spokesperson said.

The agency appealed to the public not to fall for false job promises from dubious recruitment agencies and agents.

Indian authorities have stepped up efforts to bring back all Indians serving with the Russian military, though the actual number remains unclear, with some reports suggesting it could be around 100.

Last month, India’s external affairs ministry confirmed that 20 Indian nationals serving with the Russian military had approached the Indian mission in Moscow seeking help with their discharge, and several were discharged after Indian authorities took up their cases in Moscow and New Delhi.

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