Surat Man Killed In Missile Attack In Russia, After Wait Of 18 Days Father Reaches Moscow To Get His Body - Vibes Of India

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Surat Man Killed In Missile Attack In Russia, After Wait Of 18 Days Father Reaches Moscow To Get His Body

| Updated: March 12, 2024 15:27

After waiting for 18 days to get his son’s body back to perform the last rites, the father of Hemil Mangukiya is reaching Moscow in a bid to honour the family’s wish “to see him one last time.” Hemil, 23-year-old man worked as a “helper” to the Russian Army at the border with Ukraine, was killed in a missile attack in Russia. 

They informed the family about Hemil two days after he was killed on February 21 — a day before the Ukraine war entered its third year, said his father Ashwin Mangukiya. 

Hemil was allegedly killed at Donetsk on February 21 during an aerial attack by Ukraine on the armed forces of Russia. He was among the few Indians, who had allegedly been duped into working with Russian military units in its war with Ukraine. 

The CBI has already initiated a probe against the agents involved in allegedly duping and sending Indian youths to Russia on the pretext of jobs and deploying them on the frontlines instead. Ashwin said he has recorded his statement with the Surat rural police amid the ongoing CBI investigation.   

“We had contacted the Indian Embassy in Moscow with a request to get the body back to India,” Ashwin shared, adding, “They assured that they would send the body back. But 18 days have already passed. Even on the phone… when we call Embassy officials, every time… a new officer takes the call and responds to our queries.” 

“We wanted to know where the process got stuck. We were tired of this and we decided to visit Russia and see what was happening on the ground. We want to perform the last rites in Surat.” 

Surat Mayor Daxesh Mawani said, “After coming across the issues of the Mangukiya family, as a Mayor of Surat city, I wrote an email to the Indian Embassy last week and requested them to speed up the process. They had assured me in the email that they are working on it.” 

Mangukiya and his brothers Suresh and Lalit have secured a 16-day tourist visa to Russia and they plan to visit the Indian Embassy in Moscow on landing and talk to the officials. “We will also take the address and contact number of the Russian military officials under whom my son was serving and try to know where the body is, if needed,” said Ashwin.  

Ashwin added, “Seeing us there to get the body, the Russian authorities will, hopefully, also show some sympathy towards us and speed up the process. We will collect the belongings of Hemil from his room and also carry out all the legal procedures with the Russian government. He had a bank account over there and his first salary is still in the account. If needed, we will also try to extend our visa over there.” 

 Ashwin’s younger brother Atul said, “We contacted all the elected MLAs in Surat and everyone assured us that we will get the body soon. We don’t know what they have done. Nobody is bothered to help us, even though we have contacted our Patidar community leaders, including diamond merchants, for help. We are praying here in Surat that Ashwinbhai and his brothers will be able to get the body back. Ashwinbhai is in touch with Russian military officials after this incident.” 

Although the Mangukiyas held the besna (mourning) ritual for 23-year-old Hemil Mangukiya on February 26, about five days after he was claimed to have died in a missile attack on the Russian-Ukraine border, there is no closure for the family as they are yet to see his remains. 

Hemil was running a small shop of textile accessories near his house in Surat when he came in contact with agents offering jobs in Russia through a YouTube video of one ‘Baba blogger’. The family paid Rs 3 lakh for a job in Russia to the agents. 

Ashwin said he transferred Rs 1.5 lakh in the bank account of the agents of Mumbai. The rest was paid in cash “to agents (identified as) Pooja and Sufiyan in Mumbai, on December 14 (last year)”, the day they dropped Hemil off at Mumbai with the agents for his journey to Russia. 

Ashwin said apart from Hemil, seven other “job aspirants” were flown to Chennai from Mumbai and then to Moscow on December 16, 2023. The agents received them from the airport and kept them in a hotel for two days. Later, all travelled to an Army camp near the Russian-Ukraine border. “After we came to know that Hemil has been sent to a war zone on the Russian-Ukraine border to help the Russian Army, we were worried… we wrote to the Indian Embassy in Moscow to get him back to India, but received no response,” said Ashwin. He showed emails purportedly written by his younger son Romin – who is at present in London doing his Bachelor’s degree in cyber security – to the Indian Embassy in Moscow, seeking to find Hemil and bring him back to India. 

Maintaining that Hemil started work in the Russian Army on December 24, Ashwin said: “There were 24 youths in his group – 22 Russians, Hemil and one Nepali. Their job was to dig bunkers for a couple of hours a day and later supply arms and ammunition to the soldiers in the warzone, the area in Ukraine captured by the Russian Army. They were also trained how to use machine guns and other ammunition. Hemil had completed one-month training in the Army base camp.” 

“We were worried about him, if he stays on, they would have inducted him to fight against Ukraine, putting his life at risk… we were telling him to return home. But Hemil was not getting permission from his senior officers,” he added. 

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