Nepali student captured in Ukraine after joining Russian army appeals for rescue

Published On: December 11, 2023 04:30 PM NPT By: Devendra Basnet

DANG, Dec 11: Pratik Pun from Tulsipur Sub-metropolitan City-19 Bijauri,  Dang, who had gone to Russia on a student visa, was tempted to join the Russian army for financial benefits. After spending two months in Moscow, Pratik's desire to become a citizen of Russia along with the desire to earn money led him to join the Russian army. Finally, participating in the war between Ukraine and Russia, he was captured by the Ukrainian army.

A video has been released of Pratik speaking while in the control of the Ukrainian army. In the video, he stated, "My name is Pratik Pun. I am from Bijauri, Dang in Nepal. I joined the Russian army, and now I am under the captivity of Ukraine."

Pratik went to Russia on a student visa some time ago. He stayed in Moscow, the capital of Russia, for two to three months. At the same time, he heard about recruitment in the Russian army through an agent. He was recruited into the Russian army through an agent who showed no problem with recruitment and promised a good salary. Pratik, who was desperate to earn money by joining the Russian army, was eventually captured by Ukrainian forces.

After joining the Russian army, Pratik was given a few months of training. After training, he was assigned to the battlefield and was subsequently captured by the Ukrainian army. Pratik was not in touch with his family for a week. His family, worried about his well-being, learned about the situation after seeing the video on Sunday.

"A week ago, my brother informed me that he would no longer be able to come online," Bipana, Pratik's sister, told Republica. "Upon viewing the video on Sunday, I found out that he has been held captive."

Upon witnessing the video in which her son revealed his capture by the Ukrainian army, Tilakumari, Pratik’s mother, is worried. She expresses concern about her son's return home after being held captive in Ukraine. "If he had been captured in a place like Kathmandu or Nepalgunj, I would have said I would go and bring him," she stated. "But where is Russia? How will my son come home? Who will bring him? God, please save him without any harm," pleaded Tilakumari.

Father Tara Bahadur passed away in Shrawan (mid-July to mid-August) 2079 BS after suffering from kidney failure for three years. The family, belonging to the lower class, relied solely on loans to sustain themselves. Pratik's maternal uncles assisted with the loans. As the burden of debt grew, Pratik made a plan to go abroad. "He consistently talked about going abroad to settle his uncle's debt," shared Tilakumari. "I granted him permission to seek a better life in another country." At the age of 22, Pratik, having heard about easily obtaining a student visa and earning good income in Russia, initiated the process of going abroad.

He flew to Russia during Ashadha (mid-June to mid-July) after spending Rs 900,000. Initially settling in Moscow, he pursued his studies while working in a hotel. "He used to tell me that he would go to the campus for studies and work in a hotel from 2PM," Tilakumari recalled. "He earned Rs 60,000 a month," she added.

Pratik, who was balancing his studies and work, had plans to join the Russian army, but he kept this decision hidden from his family. It was only in a phone conversation three months ago that he finally revealed that he had joined the Russian army. "Initially, he didn't disclose his plan to join the Russian army," Tilakumari mentioned. Tilakumari was aware of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, so she urged him to leave the army and resume his previous job. However, Pratik reassured his family, asserting that joining the army held no danger, as many of his friends were also serving alongside him, and he would be safe.

"He never even touched the gun, I suggested to him repeatedly that there is an ongoing conflict, and return back to your previous work, but he kept insisting that nothing would happen because his friends are also together."

Pratik had consistently mentioned that he chose to join the army due to the potential for higher earnings compared to working in a hotel. "He assured me not to worry, saying he would earn a lot of money," Tilakumari explained. She said, "Even though he reassured me, I was anxious because of the ongoing war." Despite joining the Russian army, Pratik stayed connected with his family. However, last week, Pratik called his sister Bipana and informed her that he would no longer be able to come online.

"Brother said that the car had arrived, and he said he was leaving," Bipana said "He told me over the phone that he couldn't come online, and said not to worry." Since then, she has been sending text messages to her brother Pratik every day, but there has been no response. "My brother has been captured, and he has not been in touch since then," Bipana expressed. "Who will bring my brother back home?"

A relative in a village in Malaysia informed Pratik's family that Ukraine had captured Pratik. After watching the video, the relative delivered the news to Pratik's house. Tilakumari is deeply concerned that her only son may not be able to return after being held captive by Ukraine. Bipana, the youngest of the three daughters, is currently studying in class 9, while the other two daughters are already married.

Since his arrival in Russia, Pratik has sent home Rs 125,000 twice. In a conversation a week ago, he said that he would receive his salary in a few days, and he would send the money home. With her husband having passed away due to kidney failure, Tilakumari expresses that her only hope now lies in her one and only son. Tilkumari said, “While I had hoped that he would earn a good sum of money, he has been engaged in the wrong line of work, I wish he would return safely.”

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