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Morphed image showing Heera Group CEO Nowhera Shaik receiving the book from Sushma Swaraj Image Credit:

Dubai: For years, India’s Heera Group CEO Nowhera Shaik used Photoshop as a company policy to gain the trust of investors. Now, some of those morphed photos have come back to haunt the woman accused of running a Dh2.60 billion Ponzi scheme.

The Hyderabad Police has launched a probe into a set of doctored photos from a five-year-old book launch event in Dubai where Nowhera is seen sharing the stage with Sushma Swaraj, India’s external affairs minister at that time.

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Nowhera was present at the release of The Indian Super 100, a coffee table book containing profiles of one hundred entrepreneurs and professionals from India. In fact, she was featured in the book too. But unlike many others, she did not receive the book from Swaraj..

So what did she do? She photoshopped herself into a picture of an Indian community member receiving the book from Swaraj.

In its charge sheet against Nowhera, Hyderabad Police said that Swaraj gave the book to an Indian man Dubai, but Nowhera morphed the images to make it appear that it was she who received the book from the minister during her visit to the UAE in 2014.

Hyderabad police said they are planning to write to the Ministry of External Affairs to get the full list of businessmen who received the book.

Biju Ninan, the publisher of The Indian Super 100 said he was aghast when he found out abut the photo manipulation

“We contacted Heera Group’s office several times asking them to remove the doctored images but they ignored our requests. It’s clear she morphed the pictures to seek mileage,” Ninan told Gulf News on Sunday.

Gulf News first exposed Nowhera’s trickery in an article titled Queen of Photoshop. Published in November 2018, the report gave a detailed account of how Nowhera routinely used doctored pictures to fake recognition and delude investors into believing that she had worthy credentials..

Thousands worldwide, including many in the UAE, put their implicit faith in Heera Group after it announced winning a string of awards. Among them were ‘Top Business Woman Award’ from Shaikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, billed as the ‘Princess of Dubai’ and the ‘Best Newcomer Brand’ for Heera Foodex at Gulfood 2018.

On its Facebook page and in-house web channel, Heera Group also claimed to have organised the food and beverages trade show at the Dubai World Trade Centre in 2018.

Each of these claims turned out to be false. Shaikha Hend, who runs the local fashion label, House of Hend, denied giving any award to Nowhera. “I did indeed meet her once because she was covered in a book of successful Indian entrepreneurs... but this picture is photoshopped,” she said in response to a Gulf News query on Twitter.

Contrary to what it claims, Heera Group never organised Gulfood 2018 but was instead one of the 5,000 odd exhibitors at the show, an annual feature in Dubai for over 20 years.