Soldiers of misfortune

Soldiers of misfortune

In the present context of Indian youths on the Russian front, the focus is not on Wagner machinery. / Pixabay

The harrowing tale of a group of Indian youths somehow in the frontlines of the Russia-Ukraine war with reports of at least one death and others desperate to get back is a grim reminder of present day realities of conflicts. 

The idea of outsourcing fighting is not something that President Vladimir Putin can claim exclusive bragging rights. 

The Wagner group that supposedly did much of the fighting with Ukraine over the last years is now said to be a thing of the past with its top military commanders perishing in an air crash after fooling around with deadly weapons on flight, if this is a story to be believed. 

In the present context of Indian youths on the Russian front, the focus is not on Wagner machinery. As far as India is concerned, it hardly matters who Russia is using to justify its two year aggression. 

The fact remains that Indian self styled soldiers were lured under the pretext of working as support staff to security forces, if reports are to be taken in hook line and sinker. They are said to be in trenches alongside Russian regulars facing real ammunition and the onslaught of the Ukrainians.

The surfacing of this kind of story brings back memories of the 1980s Soldiers of Fortune, especially of advertisements calling for mercenaries on assignments to free prisoners held in the jungles of Southeast Asia or take on the drug mafias in Central and Latin America. 

At times rogue elements in intelligence agencies took upon themselves to recruit freelance thugs. But all this glamor that included annual secret conventions faded when countries found a better way to deal with issues.

What India is confronting now are the rues of the Soldiers of Misfortune and in efforts to bring back these folks who find themselves in a situation created by their own sense of macho or plain stupidity exploited by merchants of death waiting for any scenario to make a buck.

That said, laying the entire blame on recruiters is also not correct for want of proper information. How did they manage to leave for Russia and with valid travel documents? This is where the government of India must step in for a thorough investigation. 

It has become almost routine to scream bloody murder when things go awry; and this does not just pertain to the youths in trenches with bullets whizzing past their heads. 

It has also to do with students going to far away places and finding that they have been taken for a royal ride; or manual laborers cheated out of their legitimate wages or with horrendous working conditions.

There are limits to what the government can do—this includes embassies and consulates overseas-- especially when people are willing to go the extra mile in taking on dangerous and patently  illegal journeys for a so-called better way of life in Europe or the Americas. 

Folks are at times naïve enough to believe an agent’s fraudulent painting of a rosy scenario of a foreign land or jobs. But recruiters must also be reminded of the consequences of taking people for a ride—the prospect of breaking bread with even more hardened criminals every morning and for a long period of time. 








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