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Sushma’s intervention brought NRI to homeland

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh |

What’s in the name? A lot, perhaps if your namesake is a murderer. A 53-year-old non-resident Indian (NRI), Avtar Singh Dhillon, from Punjab discovered this after the Dubai police erroneously arrested him as his namesake was wanted there for a murder.

Dhillon, a resident of Gunachaur in Nawanshahar, was on way to home state from the United States of America (USA) via Dubai after three years when he was first detained at Dubai airport along with his son Kanwar Deep Singh (25) for nearly 26 hours and then put in jail for 13 days.

This was after the authorities in Dubai airport discovered that the name in his passport was similar to a person who was declared murdered by Dubai police in 2007.

Apart from similar name, there was another detail in his passport which added to his plight – both the murderer’s and Dhillon’s passports were issued by the Jalandhar passport office in 2002.

A transporter-cum-agriculturist, Dhillon had moved to the United States of America (USA) in 2013 after winding up the entire business with family. He was on his way back on 25 January when Dhillon was detained at the Dubai airport for around 26 hours without water and food. “My son kept waiting me outside. Later I was put behind the bars with other 40 persons from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India at a local police station,” Dhillon told reporters at the Chandigarh Press Club.

Having a few dollars in his pocket helped him in making use of the telephone facility in the jail and talk to his family in the USA. It was eventually Union minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj’s intervention – who was approached by Dhillon’s family and provided with details of his foreign visits via email to prove his innocence – which helped him.

As it was clear from his foreign visit details that it was his first visit to Dubai and he was not there when the murder took place, the Union ministry asked the Indian embassy in Dubai to ensure Dhillon’s release.

Following this, Dubai police conducted Dhillon’s eye tests, finger print test and DNA tests to ascertain if he was the similar person who committed crime in 2007 or not.

After Dhillon’s DNA did not match the records of the accused he was finally released from jail after 13 days.