Fake Everest Claim: Couple BANNED

The Nepal government has imposed a 10-year ban on Pune’s police couple, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, who first created a flutter with their claim that they were the first Indian couple to scale the Mt Everest and later, faced flak when mountaineers who went on expedition disputed their attempt alleging that they had faked their Everest ascent by digitally altering photos.

Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla told The Indian Express that they have learnt from officials that the Nepal government has sent a letter to Pune police, intimating its decision to ban the police couple from entering that country for 10 years. “This means, the probe ordered by the Nepal government has confirmed that the duo had lied about scaling the Everest…This is indeed shocking. The couple had not only tarnished the image of police force, but of the whole country as well,” Shukla said, adding that the police were expecting to get the letter in the next couple of days.

Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, both 30 years old and serving constables with the Pune police, had held a press meet in Kathmandu on June 5 and announced that they scaled the Everest on May 23, thereby becoming the first Indian couple to do so. The two were posted at the Shivajinagar headquarters of Pune city police.

Shukhla also said she will initiate a “strong” action against the couple after receiving the letter from the Nepal government. When asked if they can be arrested, the police commissioner added that action will be taken as per laid down norms.

She revealed that the couple has been absconding since the Pune police initiated a departmental inquiry against them. “The two have disappeared without a trace even as we were conducting the departmental inquiry,” said Shukla.

Senior officials added that the couple might not be arrested, but could face demotion or stoppage of their annual increments. Officials also said by absconding and remaining out of bounds for the probe, the couple through their behaviour had already confirmed that they had done something wrong. “The letter from Nepal government will only confirm their guilt, fully..”

Days after the couple’s press meet, a group of mountaineers had approached Pune police alleging that the duo had faked their expedition by morphing photographs. Surendra Shelke, one of the complainants and secretary of a city-based mountaineering association, had alleged that the couple had morphed pictures and there were several discrepancies in their version given about the summit. The Pune police had immediately ordered a probe, officials said.

A mountaineer from Kolkata had told this paper that he and another climber actually scaled the Everest on May 21 and their pictures were misused by the duo.

“I had scaled Mt Everest along with another climber and two sherpas on May 21,” Satyrup Siddhantha, a software engineer working in Bangalore, had told this paper.

Siddhanta said he had given his pictures to some people, including sherpas at the base camp. “They (sherpas) had copied the pictures in their pen drives. They might have shared the pictures with other climbers,” he said. Siddhantha had uploaded his pictures on Facebook on June 2.

He claimed that pictures circulated by sherpas were misused by the Pune couple.

“Of the four pictures of the couple I saw, three are completely morphed. The fourth picture had been released as it was. The fourth picture shows me in a yellow climbing suit. I have it and can produce it,” he had told this paper.

Source: Indian Express