Two Men From Kashmir End Up as Mercenaries for Russia in War Against Ukraine, Families Cry for Help


Last Updated: February 26, 2024, 18:26 IST

Aazad Yousuf Kumar (L) and Zahoor Ahmad (R), the two man from kashmir who ended up fighting as mercenaries in Russia in war against Ukraine. (Image/News18)

Aazad Yousuf Kumar (L) and Zahoor Ahmad (R), the two man from kashmir who ended up fighting as mercenaries in Russia in war against Ukraine. (Image/News18)

A copy of Aazad’s Russian visa shown to News18 by his family mentioned his purpose as a ‘tourist’ and was valid from December 4, 2023, to December 31, 2023

The families of two men belonging to Jammu and Kashmir have appealed to the Ministry of External Affairs for help after they ended up as mercenaries for Russia fighting against Ukraine on the frontline.

In December 2023, Aazad Yousuf Kumar, a resident of Poshwan in the Awantipora district of Jammu and Kashmir informed his family about a ‘helper’ job he had landed in Dubai.

A job seeker, 31-year-old Aazad set out for his journey leaving behind his wife and their four-month-old child. According to his family, Aazad and a few others were duped by a Dubai-based consultancy and sent to fight as mercenaries for Russia on the frontline with Ukraine.

“He went to Mumbai first and then to Dubai. He later informed us that he would be travelling to another location and his phone wouldn’t be available for some days. After a few days, he called us and informed us they had been pushed to join the Russian army,” Aazad’s father, Mohammad Yousuf Kumar told News18, adding that the consultancy person disappeared after they landed in Russia.

A copy of Aazad’s Russian visa shown to News18 by his family mentioned his purpose as a ‘tourist’ and was valid from December 4, 2023, to December 31, 2023. According to the copy, the inviting party was listed as LLC Capital Service, Moscow.

Aazad Yusuf Kumar visa (Image/News18)

Mohammad Yousuf Kumar also said that during his training with the Russian army, Aazad accidentally shot himself in the leg and was taken to a medical facility where he was treated. When he returned, he found 12 men who he had travelled with relocated to the frontline. Aazad communicated occasionally with his family in Kashmir through social media.

Aazad Yousuf Kumar sent a picture of his injured leg (Image/News18)

Before landing the job in Dubai, Aazad used to dig borewells in the villages near Awantipora. His friend Basharat asserted that an injured Aazad was waiting for help. “He is about 20 kilometres away from the frontline right now but will be deployed in the war once he recovers,” Basharat told News18.

He also said that Aazad cries while calling his family and wishes to come home. “He calls us for 2-3 minutes only and can’t understand the Russian language, so he doesn’t know his location. At the moment he is away from the frontline but fears he will be sent soon,” Basharat said.

The Ministry of External Affairs has assured it has taken up the matter of discharging Indians who are fighting alongside the Russian Army in Ukraine. There have been growing reports about Indians from different states being used as mercenaries.

Meanwhile, another Kashmiri youth, Zahoor Ahmad from Hajinar Tangdar from Kupwara has gone ‘missing; in Russia. In a letter to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, the J&K students’ association has demanded the safe return of the duo from the valley.

In a photograph accessed by News18, Zahoor was in Odintsovsky district in Russia in early December last year. He had also posted a photograph on his social media handle wearing a military uniform.

“Zahoor, employed in a private capacity in Chandigarh, travelled to Russia in December 2023 with two companions, Arbaab from Uttar Pradesh and Asfaan from Hyderabad. His sudden disappearance necessitates urgent assistance from the Ministry of External Affairs to ensure his safe return,” the letter read.

They have requested the Ministry of External Affairs to launch a thorough investigation into both cases, locate Azad Yusuf Kumar and Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh, and facilitate their prompt repatriation to their families.

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