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Himalayan con: Nepal Tourism initiates probe

Nepal tourism minister sets up 3-member team to investigate allegations that Pune constable couple faked their summit of Mt Everest

Even as the Pune Police is probing the constable couple, Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, for allegedly faking their summit of Mt Everest, the Nepal tourism ministry has started its own investigations.

mid-day had last week broken the story about the couple allegedly faking the feat by morphing the summit picture of a mountaineer from Bengaluru, Satyarup Siddhanta. Speaking to this reporter from Kathmandu, Aananda Pokharel, Nepal Tourism Minister, said, “I am aware of the complaint and the whole case. A three-member committee has been set up that comprises one member from my ministry, one member from the Nepal Tourism Board and one member from the Department of Tourism.”

While the minister revealed that Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, joint secretary of the tourism ministry, is one of the members, he did not divulge the other two names.

DG Sudharshan Prasad Dhakal of the Department of Tourism (DoT), claimed ignorance about the committee being set up. However, he said he, too, has started a probe with his department to investigate the whole matter. “We have started investigating the matter and will be calling the agency officials, the liaison officer and the climbing sherpas to find the truth,” he said.

‘DoT not to blame’
Asked if any probe or questioning will take place of the DoT officials who officially issued the summit certificate to the Rathods, Dhakal said, “DoT officials are not to be blamed. DoT goes by the report submitted by the agency that organises the expedition, the liaison officer who signs the form saying the climbers have summited the peak, the expedition leader’s word, the climbing sherpa’s interview and the photos presented.”

The above statement clearly indicates how easily one can manipulate and get a certificate for summit. On questioning Dhakal further as to why the DoT official did not verify the photos and interview the climbing sherpas, he said,
“Yes, the photos are not right. If our department officer is found guilty we will take appropriate action against him as well, and will cancel the summit certificate of the climbers.” A decision in this matter will be taken within a week, he added.

In the meanwhile, it is understood from Dhakal that a committee within DoT is also reviewing the current rules and regulations of mountaineering in Nepal.

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