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'My 2 Daughters Keep Asking Me...': Wife of Bengal Man 'Trapped' in Russian Army

In a video, which was shared by Darjeeling MP Raju Bista on X, Urgen Tamang alleged he had been 'duped by agents'.

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"Every time my phone rings, I get this sinking feeling in my stomach – and I hope it is not bad news. This is the second time my husband has sent an SOS to the Indian government. Does it not care about its citizens? When will the government rescue him?" asked Ambika Tamang, a resident of Chibo-Purbung in Kalimpong district of West Bengal.

For the past five months, Ambika's husband Urgen Tamang has been stranded in the Russian Army, fighting its war against Ukraine.

Ambika, 45, is a housewife and lives with her two young school-going daughters in Chibo-Purbung. Her husband is the sole breadwinner of the family.

"Our two young daughters are terrified that he is stranded in a foreign country. They keep asking me when they can see him, but I don't have an answer," Ambika told The Quint.

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'He Didn't Want to Fight the War'

Urgen Tamang, who is in his 40s, was serving in the Indian Army till 2018. After that, he had been working as a security guard in a private company in Gujarat till last year, his wife told The Quint.

Ambika added that she knew very little about her husband's plans to go to Russia. "He just told me that he wanted to go to bidesh [abroad] to work, and that he had paid Rs 6 lakh to an agent in Siliguri to help him leave the country."

"He had come home from Gujarat once in December [2023] but hardly spent time with us since he was running around to get his documents in order. He arranged for the money that the agent demanded and then he said that he was going to Russia. He flew to Delhi and then to Russia by 19 January this year."
Ambika

Ambika said Tamang had told her that the money he earned as a security guard and the pension from the army were not enough to get by. "He wanted to earn more for our daughters' education and future," she added.

Tamang, like many others in the region, joined the Indian Army in the later part of the 2000s, under the government's Short Service Commission scheme.

Under the scheme, eligible men and women serve as officers for a minimum of 10 years with an option to either leave, opt for permanent commission, or opt for an extension of four more years of service. Ambika said that her husband didn't apply for permanent commission.

She added that after Tamang left for Russia, he video-called her on 22 March and told her he would be on the frontlines the next day.

"He said he didn't want to go fight the war and wanted to come home. He asked to request the authorities to help him out."
Ambika

Ambika further said that her husband had been in touch with her regularly before going on the frontlines.

"After being deployed, the frequency of his calls went down."
Ambika

The last time she spoke to him was on 12 May.

"Nowadays, the duration of the calls is short, too. He calls us to tell he is safe, and that is mostly it," she added.

'Duped by Recruitment Agents'

In Tamang's first SOS to the government, which was shared by Darjeeling MP Raju Bista on X on 23 March, he claimed he had been duped by recruitment agents.

Tamang alleged that around January, an agent from Siliguri (in West Bengal) sent him to Delhi where another agent met him and gave him a ticket and visa to fly to Moscow.

"I reached Moscow in January and was received by a Nepali/Gorkha agent and kept in a hotel. The next day, another agent [who hails] from Tamil Nadu met me and kept me in a hotel for another eight to nine days. I was then sent to an army camp and kept there for 17-18 days and made to sign a bond."
Urgen Tamang

Tamang further alleged that he was taken to a 'jungle camp' where he was trained in ammunition for about 10-12 days.

"I was then told that I would be deployed on the frontlines... I appeal to the Indian government to rescue me," he added in the video.

After Tamang's wife reached out to him, Raju Bista told the local media that he had approached the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian Embassy in Russia, to help rescue him.

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What Did the MEA Say?

Ambika said that in the first week of April, her husband called her and requested her to appeal to the authorities to rescue him. "He wanted to be reunited with his daughters," she said.

On 20 March, he sent out an SOS to his wife, requesting the Union government to intervene and rescue him.

Charanjeet Singh, additional secretary (Eurasia division), had then stated that the government was pursuing his case.

In a video, which was shared by Darjeeling MP Raju Bista on X, Urgen Tamang alleged he had been 'duped by agents'.

(Photo: Facebook/ Raju Bista)

"The Indian Embassy in Moscow has taken up the matter with the Russian authorities concerned to secure his early return," he had stated in an email to Raju Bista on 12 April.

Last week, Tamang sent out yet another message as the Indian authorities have been unable to rescue him from Russia so far. In a voice message sent to his wife, he said,

"I have requested my Russian friend to send this message. I am currently posted with the second battalion of the 144 brigade (of the Russian army)."

The MEA had earlier stated that every case brought to the attention of the Indian embassy in Moscow had been taken up with the Russian authorities as well as the Russian embassy in Delhi. Meanwhile, the MEA did not respond to The Quint's queries on their efforts to rescue Tamang. This story will be updated as and when we receive a response.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  West Bengal   Russia Army   Russia-India 

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