Nepal reopens probe into Everest summit fraud by Indian couple

24 Dec 2017

Nepal has reopened a probe after an Indian couple, banned from mountaineering for a decade for allegedly faking their Everest expedition by morphing photos, filed an application seeking the re-issuance of their summit certificates, a media report said today. Police constable couple Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod had been dismissed from Pune police in August after they falsely claimed to have summited Mount Everest in May last year.
The action was taken after an inquiry conducted by a fact-finding committee, set up by the Maharashtra police, found that their claims were misleading and bogus, and it was confirmed that they had faked about the ascent.
The Nepal government last year banned Dinesh and Tarkeshwari from mountaineering for 10 years. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has reopened investigation into an Indian couple who were slapped mountaineering ban in Nepal for a decade, getting their summit certificates rescinded for presenting morphed photographs to show themselves on the top of Mount everest, the world's highest peak at 8,848 metres, The Himalayan Times reported. The ministry has decided to reopen the case after Dinesh and his wife Tarkeshwari filed an application in the ministry seeking for the re-issuance of their summit certificates at the earliest, the report said. After receiving the Indian couple's application, Minister Jitendra Narayan Dev issued a written order in the name of the Department of Tourism for the reopening of an investigation into the case, a Joint Secretary in the ministry said. Dinesh Bhattarai, Director General at the Department of Tourism (DoT), confirmed that the ministry set up a three- member committee under his leadership to reopen the case.
An under-secretary each from the ministry and the DoT has been named as members of the committee, he said. "The panel will submit its report to the Minster by early next week," Bhattarai said. The panel was studying the decisions and actions taken earlier by the government authorities, he said. It was also summoning the Rathod couple, respective DoT officials, liaison officer, expedition handling agency and others concerned officials, Bhattarai said. As per the minister-level decision taken in August, the couple had faced a decade-long mountaineering ban in Nepal, getting their certificates rescinded. After a month-long investigation, the government panel had also concluded that the photographs submitted to the DoT by the Maharashtra police couple as evidence of their Everest summit were doctored.
The Rathods had obtained certificates from the DoT on June 10 last year by submitting morphed pictures that showed themselves on the top of Mount Everest on May 23, 2016 with Liaison Officer Ganesh Prasad Timsina and Makalu Adventure approving their claims, the report said. The Sherpa guides, on the other hand, had remained out of contact at the time the couple's claims were questioned.
The photos submitted by the Rathod couple were found faked after Satyarup Siddhanta, an Indian climber from Bangalore, accused the couple of doctoring his May 21 photographs, the report said.
The couple are now in Kathmandu to meet government authorities for getting their summit certificates back, an official said, the report said. Makalu Adventure, the trekking agency which ran the Everest expedition for the Rathod Couple, had also been fined USD 4,000 for helping them obtain summit certificates by submitting all fake claims to the DoT, it added. (PTI)