'No Jobs in Haryana, Our Sons Were Duped into Fighting Russia-Ukraine War'

Families from rural Kaithal told us why their sons chose to take up a job in Russia and the lack of jobs in Haryana.

4 min read

Video Editor: Nitin Bisht

“Please get us out of here as soon as possible... They beat us here. On some days, they don't give us any food... When we asked our commander if we could leave, he threatened to kill us.” 

This is the plea of 21-year-old Sahil, a resident of Mator village in Kaithal district of Haryana. His elder brother Aman told The Quint that he had left for Russia on 13 January, after a local travel agent promised work there in the transport sector for a good salary.  

However, in a video that Sahil shared with his family on 11 April, he claimed that he was “coerced into signing a contract in the Russian language (which he couldn’t comprehend)” and then sent for “training” for 15 days.  

“We were then taken to an old building in Ukraine. We saw the situation there and realised that they were taking us to the frontline,” he claimed in the four minutes 36 seconds-long video. 


22-year-old Ravi, hailing from the same village, too suffered from a similar experience. His brother Ajay told The Quint that Ravi went to Russia because he couldn’t find any work here.  

“We didn't know that Ravi would be made to join the army. If we had known, we would not have sent him,” mourned Ajay, who has had no contact with his brother in the last two months and fears he has been taken as prisoner of war in Ukraine.  

This is not just the story of Sahil and Ravi but hundreds of youths in rural Haryana, especially along the rural Kurukshetra and Kaithal, who have taken up jobs in war-torn countries such as Russia and Israel because they couldn’t find any work back home.  

The Quint spoke to two families from rural Kaithal on why their sons chose to take up odd jobs in Russia and about the acute lack of jobs in rural Haryana. Here’s what we found:

‘Took Up Job in Russia as No Work Here’

“Ravi was not getting any job. Then one agent approached us, saying he will provide us some work in Russia for some wages. He said that my son won't work anywhere close to the war, he will be in Russia,” said Bhag Singh, Ravi’s father.  

He added that the limited job openings in Haryana are often marred by exam question paper leaks or “cash for jobs.” 

Earlier this year, there were reports of a Class 10 board exam question paper being leaked from a school in Nuh. In 2021, the Haryana State Service Commission, which provides jobs in the state government, had to cancel the police constable exam after it was reportedly leaked.

Meanwhile, Ajay said that Ravi had also tried enrolling for the government’s Agnipath scheme but had “crossed the age limit” during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The Union government had launched the Agnipath scheme in June 2022 to enroll youth in the Indian Army for four years, after which, only 25 percent of the ‘Agniveers’ will be enrolled in the permanent cadre. The age limit for candidates is 17.5 to 21 years.   

“He had to go to Russia because of joblessness. If we had a job here, we would not have sent him at all,” Ajay lamented.  

Ajay Ashu, a leader from the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, told The Quint that 200-300 youth are looking to go abroad for jobs “through legal, and sometimes even illegal channels” because of rampant unemployment in Haryana. His organisation works with youth in the education and employment sectors.  

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Haryana recorded the maximum unemployment rate of 37.4 percent as of January 2023. 


‘Got a Call That Ravi Was Injured in Grenade Blast’ 

“After 15 days of training, we were made to sit in a bus and all our phones were seized. We were then taken to an old building in Ukraine and forcefully made to sign on some papers. We were told that if we do not sign those papers, they would kill us,” Sahil is seen saying in the video that he shared with this elder brother.  

Sahil’s brother Aman told The Quint that the former had called on the night of 11 March and said that he got “injured from a grenade blast and has been hospitalised.” 

Meanwhile, Ajay has not heard from his 22-year-old brother Ravi in the last two months. He said that Ravi was a part of a group of 12 men, of which only two had survived – one Nepalese man, who had completely lost one of his legs and himself; and Ravi, who picked up the injured man and brought him to a hospital.  

“Ravi underwent treatment in the hospital till 12 March, when at around 6pm, he was again sent to fight. Since then, I have not heard from him.”
Ajay, Ravi's elder brother

He added that he is looking for his brother in online news coverage and fears that he may be taken prisoner of war in Ukraine. 

Families of both Ravi and Sahil claimed that they were approached by travel agents offering work in Russia but were assured that their children would not be sent to the frontline.  

“The agent said that there is work in Russia in the transport department for a helper, for cleaning, loading and unloading. He even took Rs 10 lakh from us for this job,” Sahil alleged to The Quint.  

However, now this agent has refused to take any responsibility for the fate of Ravi and Sahil, their families claimed.


‘Unemployment, Inflation Big Issues in the Lok Sabha Elections’ 

As Haryana prepares to vote in the Lok Sabha elections on 25 May, joblessness and price rise seem to be two major issues, Ashu claimed.

“As per recent data, over 2 lakh posts in Haryana are lying vacant. In the 2014 state elections, BJP leader and former chief minister ML Khattar had promised to provide 2 lakh jobs in their manifesto. The BJP too had promised 2 crore jobs.  

In the last 10 years, the BJP has ruled at the Centre as well as in Haryana. Yet, Haryana tops the charts as far as unemployment is concerned." 

Ajay asserted that his family would not have sent his younger brother to Russia if there were jobs back here.  

“We called the embassy and appealed many times, but they haven't responded. We told them that if later something unfortunate happens (to Sahil), it would be too late for his evacuation,” Aman mourned. 

Both the families are living in fear that something may happen to their sons in Russia.

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