Bodies of two Indians killed in Russia war zone brought to Delhi

Three others stuck in Russia release another video seeking government’s help to return 

March 16, 2024 09:01 pm | Updated 09:15 pm IST - New Delhi

The body of Hemil Mangukiya, who was killed in a missile attack on the Russia-Ukraine border, being brought to a hospital, in Surat on Saturday.

The body of Hemil Mangukiya, who was killed in a missile attack on the Russia-Ukraine border, being brought to a hospital, in Surat on Saturday. | Photo Credit: PTI

The bodies of two Indians who were killed on the Russia-Ukraine border after they were forced to fight alongside the Russian Army were brought to Delhi on March 16 and flown to their homes in Surat and Hyderabad.

The deceased, Hemil Ashvinbhai Mangukiya (23), a resident of Surat in Gujarat, and Mohammad Asfan (31) from Hyderabad, Telangana were hired as helpers for the Russian Army but were forced to participate in the ongoing war, their families said. The papers provided by Russian authorities said that Asfan died on January 27 in the Donetsk region in an “explosion”.

Asfan’s brother Mohammad Imran said the body reached the Delhi airport in the early hours on Saturday and they were not provided any opportunity to identify it earlier.

“All arrangements were done by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). We only got to see his face when the body arrived here. He was identified on the basis of passport and other documents which were deposited with the Russian authorities when he joined them last year,” Mr. Imran said.

He added that they had been petitioning the government authorities since January to know the whereabouts of Asfan and it was only on March 6 that they were informed by the Indian Embassy in Moscow about his death.

Hemil was killed in a Ukrainian air strike on February 21 in the Donetsk region on the Russia-Ukraine border. He had gone to Russia in December 2023.

Hemil’s father Ashvinbhai travelled to Moscow to receive the body.

Ashvin Patel, a relative of Hemil who was at the Delhi airport, said, “His body was kept in a cold storage in Russia all this while. The government arranged for the body to be flown here.”

Three residents of Telangana and Karnataka who are stuck in Russia made another appeal through a video message on March 11 seeking help from the Indian authorities.

Three residents of Telangana and Karnataka who are stuck in Russia made another appeal through a video message on March 11 seeking help from the Indian authorities. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Meanwhile, three residents of Telangana and Karnataka who are stuck in Russia made another appeal through a video message on March 11, seeking help from the Indian authorities.

Mohammad Mustafa, the brother of Sameer Ahmad who is seen in the video, shared the message with The Hindu. In the video, Sameer Ahmad says, “We had told you earlier that we are stuck here. Eight people have come back from the border, now they are sending us as replacement. The commander told us that they haven’t received our documents from the Indian Embassy. Our contract has not been cancelled. We request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rescue us as soon as possible.”

Mohammad Imran, the brother of Mohammad Asfan, who was killed in Russia, said the family had been petitioning the government to know of his whereabouts since January.

Mohammad Imran, the brother of Mohammad Asfan, who was killed in Russia, said the family had been petitioning the government to know of his whereabouts since January. | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

It was Mr. Ahmad who saw Hemil killed in a Ukrainian air strike on February 21 when the latter was practising how to fire.

The Hindu first reported on February 20 that at least three Indians who were hired as security helpers by Russia were forced to fight alongside the country’s forces on the Russia-Ukraine border.

The Hindu subsequently reported that there are around 100 Indians who are said to have been hired by the Russian Army in the past one year.

On Friday, Randhir Jaiswal, MEA Spokesperson, said two people have died and there are around 20 persons who had sought help to return. “We are pressing very hard with the Russian authorities for early discharge of our people who are stuck there. Last time, we had told you that there are 20 odd people there who approached us. We also have two people who passed away. On that, I have an update. The paperwork of their mortal remains has been done. The funeral agency which we have engaged has been handed over the bodies. We are in touch with the family,” Mr. Jaiswal said.

He said that due to the government’s intervention, several Indians have been discharged from the Russian Army. “So, you know, several people, we got them released. Of them, how many of them have come back, we don’t have an idea, because they got released, some of them wanted to come back, some of them did not want to come back. They wanted to be there in Russia itself... But, you know, our sense is that some four to six, five, seven, eight people have come back,” Mr. Jaiswal said.

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