Himalayan con: Nepal confirms Pune couple morphed pictures
There is a possibility of 10-year mountaineering ban against couple; action against others in the fraud will be taken based on findings of a 3-member probe team
Pune: Nepal’s Department of Tourism has confirmed that the Pune constable couple, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, had indeed morphed the Everest summit pictures of another mountaineer and fraudulently obtained a summit certificate for themselves on June 10. mid-day had exposed the couple’s deception last week. Punishment under Nepal’s Tourism Act includes a five-year ban on entering Nepal and a 10-year ban on mountaineering. Tourism department officials could not confirm what the punishment for the Rathods would be.
The website of Makalu Adventure claimed these pictures of Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod were clicked at the summit of Mt Everest. Pic/makaluadventure.com
The confirmation came after tourism department officials received a written clarification from Mohan Lamsa of Makalu Adventures, the agency hired by the Rathods to organise their Mt Everest expedition.
Makalu Adventures’ clarification stated that the pictures had been morphed, and blamed their climbing Sherpas — Furba and Fursemba, who accompanied the Rathods on the expedition — for the goof-up.
Speaking to mid-day from Kathmandu, Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, director general of Nepal’s tourism department, said, “We have received the report from the agency and found that the Rathods doctored the photos and also submitted a false report of their climb. Investigations are on by a three-member committee. The guilty will be punished by the Ministry of Tourism soon under provisions of the Tourism Act, and the certificates will be cancelled.”
Dhakal also said appropriate action would be taken against the liaison officer, climbing Sherpas and the company that organised the expedition. He said the current rules and regulations would be reviewed and made more stringent so that any attempts at fraud are thwarted.
Under the Tourism Act, 2035 (Provisions Relating to mountaineering), the Government of Nepal may ban any mountaineering expedition team or its members from entering Nepal for a period up to five years or mountaineering in Nepal for a period of up to 10 years if such team or its members commit any immoral act or exhibit immoral behaviour during the mountaineering period.
Dhakal also confirmed that the three-member committee formed by the tourism ministry was currently investigating the matter, and a final decision would be taken soon.
As per the Tourism Act, if any agency that makes arrangements for mountaineering violates any provisions regarding mountaineering under this Act or rules framed hereunder or instigates others to violate them, the Government of Nepal may punish them by either banning such an agency from making arrangements for mountaineering for a period of one year to five years, or imposing a fine which may extend from 5,000 to 25,000 Nepalese rupees, or both.
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod had applied to Nepal’s tourism department for their summit certificate on June 7 and were presented with one on June 10. When fellow mountaineers filed a police complaint contesting their claims, the Pune police commissioner ordered a probe. The photos submitted by the Rathods to the tourism department as proof were found to have been faked after Satyarup Siddhantha, a climber from West Bengal, currently living in Bengaluru, provided the original photos of his own summit on May 21, which showed that the Rathods had morphed them. Siddhanta has now filed a complaint with the cyber cell police station, Kolkata.