From Mount Everest to Ground Zero: Pune cop couple's fall from grace

Updated: 20 November, 2016 15:05 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

With Pune-based constable con couple, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, being suspended from the police department we take a look at their controversial 'climb' to fame, and back 

With Pune-based constable con couple, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, being suspended from the police department we take a look at their controversial 'climb' to fame, and back.

Probe ordered into ‘record’: In June 2016, days after they made waves across the country, Pune police order probe against ‘record-breaking’ constable couple after eight fellow mountaineers from Maharashtra filed a complaint stating that the couple was never at the Everest summit and had, in fact, morphed pictures of themselves at the top. On June 6, newspapers across the country had prominently published the Rathods’ feat — that they had, on May 23, touched the summit of Mount Everest together — the first couple to have done so.

On June 16, mountaineers Anjali Kulkarni, Sharad Kulkarni, Surendra Shelke, Anand Bansode, Shrikant Chavan, Rupali Chavan, Manisha Waghmare and Amit Singh filed a complaint with police commissioner’s office against the Rathods, disputing their claim of having reached the Everest summit.

They morphed my Everest pictures, says Bengaluru climber: Speaking to mid-day over the phone from Bengaluru, mountaineer Satyarup Siddhanta had earlier 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.

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.”

Nepal Tourism steps in: Even as the Pune Police was probing the constable couple, for allegedly faking their summit of Mt Everest, the Nepal tourism ministry started its own investigations in July 2016. Speaking to mid-day from Kathmandu, Aananda Pokharel, Nepal Tourism Minister, had 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.”

Nepal confirms Pune couple morphed pictures: Following the probe, Nepal’s Department of Tourism confirmed that the Pune constable couple had indeed morphed the Everest summit pictures of another mountaineer and fraudulently obtained a summit certificate for themselves on June 10. 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.

After almost a month-long investigation, a high-level committee formed in India also found the constable couple from Pune guilty of faking their Mount Everest summit and has ordered the Department of Tourism (DoT) to cancel their summit certificates with immediate effect.

Following the confirmations of the con job, Nepal slapped 10-year climbing ban on the couple. In November 2016, five months after a fact-finding committee was set up to probe mid-day’s expose, the two were suspended from the police department based on the committee’s report.

First Published: 18 November, 2016 08:30 IST

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