LONDON: Two police officers have been dismissed after an investigative inquiry found their claims to be false for being the first Indian couple to have scaled Everest.
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod claimed to have climbed Mount Everest last year in May. The couple said that they had reached the 8,850m (29,035ft) summit.
But the Maharashtra police on Monday confirmed the couple had faked pictures to show a successful ascent on May 23. The inquiry was set up after other climber’s queried about the pair’s claims.
Additional Commissioner Sahebrao Patil told the Press Trust of India news agency that the couple “shared misleading information” and “brought disrepute to the Maharashtra Police department”.
The couple also faced a 10-year mountaineering ban by the Nepalese authorities last year, after concluding that the couple’s claims were false. Nepalese country’s tourism reached to the decision after conducting a thorough investigation.
Rathods intially dismissed all the accusations and affirmed the reporters that their pictures were real.
Satyarup Sidhantha a climber based in the southern Indian city of Bangalore later told the media that the pictures used by the couple as a “proof” of their expedition actually belonged to him.
Many suspicions further arose after the couple announced their achievement and the time between the day Rathods claimed to have reached the summit and their news conference announcing their successful climbing.
According to the Indian Express, a press release issued by Pune City Police on Friday stated, “The couple had taken permission from the state’s director general of police in 2015 for taking part in a mountaineering expedition in Nepal. They were also given financial help of Rs 2 lakh from the police welfare fund. But the expedition was cancelled following an earthquake in Nepal, due to which the couple returned and reported to duty on June 17, 2015.”
“They never returned the money given to them. Also, they did not submit details of the expenditure of this money. In 2016, the state government again gave them permission for taking part in an expedition to climb the Mount Everest… they were relieved from duty on April 20, 2016. After returning, they did not submit any report regarding their expedition and remained absent on duty without permission.”
“The news reports about their claims of having climbed the Mount Everest were suspicious. Complaints were received about morphed photographs used by the couple. During preliminary inquiry, the couple was unable to provide any strong proof or documents about climbing the Mount Everest. Also, during inquiry, they gave different and contradictory information.”
Dinesh said, “It is wrong to say the Nepal government has imposed a ban of 10 years on us. We have received no communication from the Nepal government in this regard. We have the certificate given to us by the Nepal government for successfully climbing Mount Everest… The persons who complained that we morphed the photographs, to make false claims of climbing Mount Everest, have not maintained it during the departmental inquiry. So it is clear that the complaint against us was false and done with malicious intent.”
He added, “We wanted to talk about it earlier. But we were not allowed to talk to the media as the inquiry was on. We were threatened that if we approach the media, we would be suspended from service. We cooperated with the inquiry officers and did not speak to the media. But still, we were suspended… this is injustice,” said Dinesh.