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Month on, 7 Indians 'Trapped' in Russia Beg For Help Amid 'War Rukwa Di' Claims

Month on, 7 Indians 'duped' into fighting Russia-Ukraine war are yet to be rescued, while BJP claims 'War Rukwadi'

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(Video Editor: Nitin Bisht)

"Hello, brother. I have a request for you... Via your news (portal), can you please put pressure on the government or the Ministry of External Affairs, and help us? There is a lot of danger here. They can take us back to the frontline anytime."

Harsh Kumar, 20, sent us this voice note on WhatsApp on Thursday, 28 March, seeking The Quint's help in getting him rescued.

A Karnal resident, Harsh is among the seven Indian tourists who have been "trapped" in the Russia-Ukraine warzone for more than a month, after a travel agent allegedly "duped" them into joining the Russian Army in January 2024.

The Quint had on March 7 reported how these seven tourists were left stranded in Belarus, after a travel agent allegedly took left them there on the pretext of "exploring Russia".

They told us they were later arrested by the Russian Army, which asked them to either join the army as 'helpers' or "serve 10 years in jail".

The men claimed they had signed a contract with the Russian Army under "duress", after being "threatened" by a jail term.
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This group of seven 'stranded' tourists have released at least four video appeals on social media till now, pleading to the Indian government to rescue them. The first two videos were released on March 3 & 4 — by Gurdaspur's Gagandeep Singh and Harsh, respectively.

Harsh released the third video on March 17.

The latest video was released on March 29.

In this video message, Harsh reiterated: "It's very dangerous here. The Russian Army had just sent us to the frontline for 10 days. If they send us back, even our dead bodies might not return. Please rescue us."

The Quint had reported on March 10 how all seven of them complained of being ill and not getting any medicines.

They told us they were having fever and vomiting, and were being made to dig trenches at an army camp.

'Taken to War-Torn Zaporizhzhia from Donetsk'

In the first week of March, the seven men were being kept at a Russian army camp in the war-torn Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Later, sometime around the time they released the third video on March 17, the seven men were taken further into the warzone, The Quint learned.

Harsh sent us his current location on March 28, which, when opened on Google Maps, took us to Sadove in the Zaporizhzhia city of Ukraine.

Month on, 7 Indians 'duped' into fighting Russia-Ukraine war are yet to be rescued, while BJP claims 'War Rukwadi'

Harsh Kumar's location on 28 March took us to Sadove in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

(Photo: Screengrab of Google Maps)

Ever since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in February 2022, both Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia have been in the news for facing massive destruction.

'War Rukwa Di'?

Meanwhile, even a month after the first video appeal came out, the Ministry of External Affairs has been unable to rescue these seven stranded tourists.

Apart from Harsh and Gagandeep, who have been in touch with us over the last month, the other five men have been identified by The Quint as — Gurpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Lovepreet Singh, Naraian Singh, and Abhishek.

Meanwhile, at least two Indian citizens — Hyderabad's Mohammed Asfan and Gujarat's Hemil Mangukiya — have died fighting the Russia-Ukraine war, after falling prey to various job scams.

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal had on 8 March cautioned Indians here and abroad "not to fall for such Russian Army job scams." The MEA had earlier also stated that at least "20-odd Indians" stranded in Russia had contacted the Indian government, seeking rescue.

However, there has been no update, from either the MEA or the Indian Embassy in Russia, on the status of rescue efforts to bring these seven men back home.
In the middle of this, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also received flak for releasing the 'War Rukwa Di, Papa' advertisement, which accredits the Narendra Modi-led Union government of having rescued the stranded Indian students from the Russia-Ukraine warzone, back in 2022.

The Quint has reached out to the MEA, the Indian Embassy in Russia, and the Russian Embassy in India, for comments. This story shall be updated once a response is received from them.

(A personal appeal: The Quint has been actively covering the case of these seven stranded men, along with that of several others who were duped into fighting the Russia-Ukraine war in various job scams. But this is only possible with your support. If you like the work we are doing, become a Member, and support independent journalism!)

(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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