Greater Noida resident Pravin Kumar Sharma finally returned home. He was arrested after face recognition software identified him as a wanted criminal in UAE
The story of Pravin Kumar Sharma might not mirror the Alfred Hitchcock-directed 1956 noir The Wrong Man, but the Greater Noida resident was surely the man wronged.
Sharma was detained at Abu Dhabi airport as face recognition technology identified him as a wanted criminal in the UAE capital. It took a concerted effort from the Indian government to help him finally return to his home after four days of custody – amid cheers from the worried family.
Upon returning, in the wee hours of Sunday, Sharma was quick to acknowledge the support of the Indian authorities. “I am thankful to our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), (External Affairs Minister) S Jaishankar and (UP CM) Yogi Adityanath. I am also thankful to my district DM, LY Suhas. With their efforts, I am able to come back to my country. These four days were terrible for me,” Sharma said.
Speaking about his ordeal, Sharma said, “My name and date of birth matched with a criminal who committed a crime in 2015. They also forced me to accept that I was the same person. But I never accepted it. After verifying all my details, they allowed me to go.”
Sharma, who works as a contractor at Ambuja Cement company and lives in Habibpur village, had gone on a leisure trip to Switzerland along with his wife Usha on October 11. Since there was no direct flight, the couple had to break the journey via Abu Dhabi.
When they reached Abu Dhabi, the security staff conducted a check on the passenger during which Sharma’s face matched with a wanted criminal in Abu Dhabi in their face recognition software.
The couple were then taken to the immigration department where they were told that Sharma’s face had a resemblance to a criminal’s and he would have to stay for further checks. His wife, Usha, was allowed to go back to India.
“They took our visa and passport and told us that my husband’s face matched a criminal’s. Then they returned my passport and visa and deported me back to India,” Usha said.
After returning to India, Usha approached Gautam Buddhnagar District Magistrate Suhas LY and informed him about Pravin’s detention in Abu Dhabi. Usha told DM that Pravin never went to any Gulf country and he has no criminal record either in India or overseas. She suspected it to be a case of mistaken identity.
Suhas told the family that he would be writing to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Uttar Pradesh Government. He also asked local police to conduct a background check on Pravin. With continuous effort from Indian authorities, Pravin was finally released and allowed to come back to India.