Mohammed Asfan, a Hyderabad man who died in Russia, was also tricked the same way.

New Delhi: The CBI’s raids on agents and companies involved in trafficking Indians to Russia have revealed the nefarious ways in which youngsters were duped into fighting the country’s wars against Ukraine. 

While some were sent on the pretext of being given jobs as delivery boys, others were told they would be working as helpers for the Russian army, but were categorically assured that their duties would have nothing to do with the frontlines. The youngsters were also told that since Russia needs manpower in the war effort, the country would issue a “government official” card to them, which would all but guarantee a permanent residency

The agents’ lies have been exposed not just by the fact that at least one man from Hyderabad is alleged to have died in the fighting, but also by the CBI’s first information report (FIR) against the companies, which states that some Indians were also grievously injured in the warzone.

In a briefing on Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs also acknowledged the trafficking and the risks involved. “Several Indian nationals have been duped into working with the Russian Army… We once again appeal to Indian nationals to not be swayed by offers made by agents for support jobs with the Russian Army. This is fraught with danger and risk to life,” it said. 

Weaving Dreams 

The CBI’s FIR names 17 agents and companies but NDTV’s conversations with the families of trafficked youngsters have revealed that one of the key movers and shakers was Dubai-based Faizan Khan aka Baba, who ran a popular YouTube channel called ‘Baba Vlogs’. Khan is also named in the case. 

In one of his videos on the channel, Khan is seen in St Petersburg, Russia. He begins the video by pointing out how Finland and Estonia are less than 150 km away from the city and says in Hindi, “You can understand when you are so close, in hushed words, the things you can do when you get here.”

Showing his viewers how beautiful St Petersburg is and how far it is from the fighting, Khan goes on to say that there are jobs available as delivery boys and also as helpers with the Russian army. 

“When you join as helpers, it is not rocket science, you don’t have to fire a cannon or guns or go to the frontlines. Once the army has crossed an area, your job will be to empty buildings, get stuff out, or guard ammunition. Your job will be as a helper or a security guard,” he says.

Khan tells the youngsters that they will be given training for three months, during which they will be paid Rs 40,000 each month, which will increase to Rs 1 lakh a month after that.

“The main advantage is that you will get a government official card. You will stay in a nice place and get decent food. You will get priority everywhere. Based on that card, you can get Schengen visas, go to some other country or get a PR visa. The government’s thinking is that if you support them now, they will also give you a benefit, they will give you a PR visa,” he said.

“If there was any danger or you had to be on the frontlines, even I would not have done this. I have confirmed everything personally. You will be my responsibility and if you had to be part of the war, it would be a problem for me too. You will not be on the border, you will just have to help the Army,” Khan assured his viewers.

The fee for all this, the agent said, would be Rs 3 lakh and his team would pick people up from the airport and help them with everything. 

This is exactly how Mohammed Asfan, the 30-year-old Hyderabadi man whose death was confirmed in the fighting against Ukraine on Wednesday, was fooled. His family said he and two of his friends had got in touch with Khan and they had been taken to Russia after being promised jobs as helpers in government offices in the country. 

CBI’s Case

The CBI, which carried out raids in seven cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Ambala, Chandigarh and Madurai – on Thursday, and also registered a case, has mentioned in its FIR that other agents also used a similar playbook. 

“The above accused persons themselves, and through their agents, trafficked Indian nationals to Russia on the pretext of getting jobs related to Russian Army (as) security guards, helper,” the FIR states. 

“Further, it has been learnt that on reaching Russia, passports of these Indian Nationals were taken/snatched by agents at Russia. They were being trained in combat roles and provided with Russian army uniform and batches. Thereafter, these Indian Nationals are/were being deployed at front bases in Russia – Ukraine War Zone against their wishes and put their lives in grave danger. It has been ascertained that some human trafficking victims were also got grievously injured in the war zone (sic),” the agency has said in the FIR.

The CBI has also mentioned that many Indians were being taken on education visas by promising them admission to “dubious” private universities in Russia. “Thereafter, they are left at the mercy of visa agents and college authorities,” it said. 


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