Pune: Mountaineers Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod may have a tough time proving that they did not doctor the Everest summit photographs after another mountaineer from Bengaluru, in response to mid-day’s report on June 29, surfaced on Wednesday, claiming that the original photographs are his.
In this original photo, Satyarup Siddhanta is seen exulting on top of the Everest
The Rathods are being investigated over allegations by fellow mountaineers that they morphed photographs about reaching the Everest summit as a couple, creating a record.
In the allegedly morphed photo, Tarkeshwari Rathod is holding an Indian flag. Siddhanta’s gloves are red and black; Rathod’s red and blue. Siddhanta claims the photo may have been taken from his Sherpa, who clicked it
Speaking to mid-day over the phone from Bengaluru, mountaineer Satyarup Siddhanta said he had reached the Everest summit on May 21 at 5.45 am and these were the photographs he had taken. “I don’t know if the couple reached the summit or not. But, the pictures they have shown are definitely mine. I can prove it. I even have a video of my feat with the time stamp. I am shocked that Makulu Adventures put their name on the morphed pictures. How can they misuse my pictures like this?” Siddhanta said. He has now decided to seek legal opinion on the matter.
The photo on the left is of Siddhanta’s climbing sherpa Pemba
Explaining how Makulu could have got their hands on his photographs, Siddhanta said, “The pictures were taken by my climbing Sherpa Pemba. When we returned to base camp, I saw Pemba and the other Sherpas sharing their pictures. This could be how Makulu Adventures and the Rathods got my pictures.”
The allegedly morphed photo on the right shows Dinesh Rathod in the same setting with the Maharashtra police flag. The other climbers in the background remain the same in both photos
On Wednesday, Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla told reporters at a press conference that an inquiry had been initiated against the Rathods. She said the couple had been told to submit a report about their trip, which they haven’t done yet. The Rathods, she said, were to resume duty this week after their Everest holiday, but have not yet done so.
Siddhanta alleges that Makalu Adventure, which claims to have organised the Rathods’ climb, has simply stolen this photo of him and his teammate Malay Mukherjee. Since the faces are not clearly visible, Siddhanta suspects they did not find any need to even morph the photo
A senior officer from the Pune police, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The inquiry will most likely commence from Monday, July 4. The probe team will be headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Ganpat Madgulkar and will have six police officers and an expert, who is a mountaineer. They will be interacting with and recording the statements of the eight mountaineers who filed the police complaint against the Rathods. We are yet to communicate with the Nepal tourism ministry on the issue.”
mid-day managed to get in touch with Narayan Prasad Dahal from the Nepal Tourism Board, who acknowledged mid-day’s fax about the complaint against the Rathods, and said the allegations would be looked into.
The Rathods, meanwhile, continue to proclaim their innocence. “We will soon be given a clean chit. We trust our superiors and will abide by the law. We cannot say anymore on the issue as we are from the police department and an inquiry is currently on,” said Tarkeshwari Rathod. Dinesh Rathod refused to comment.
The Rathods’ relatives, too, are standing by them.
A relative, Meena (she did not give her surname), said, “Tarkeshwari had got frostbite during this mission but forgot about the pain when she and her husband were felicitated for their feat. They risked their lives to accomplish this feat and should be appreciated instead of being flayed.”
Another relative, who did not want to be named, said, “These allegations have affected them badly. Tarkeshwari has fallen ill and Dinesh is in no condition to speak.”
He said, “This is an injustice. They were trying to bring glory to the police force with their feat and such allegations are a blow to their morale. They have never been involved in any controversy in their 10 years in service. They even mortgaged everything they own in order to fund this Everest climb. The Nepal government’s certificate is proof enough of their accomplishment.”