Himalayan Con: Cop couple dismissed from Pune police for faking Everest summit
14 months after mid-day exposed how constables from Pune had morphed photos to claim that they scaled Mt Everest, they have been dismissed from service by the top brass
Tarkeshwari and Dinesh Rathod at a press conference on May 26, when they claimed to have summited Mt Everest
The cop couple Dinesh Rathod and his wife Tarkeshwari, who had faked their summit of Mt Everest last year, have finally been dismissed from service. The couple's shenanigans were exposed in a series of exclusive reports by freelance journalist Anusha Subramanian and this correspondent. The two had claimed they were the first Indian police couple to summit Everest on May 23, 2016, supporting their claim by photoshopping images of another climber.
The con cop couple has been found guilty of using fraudulent means to fake their Mt Everest climb, and embarrassing the Maharashtra Police in the process. On Saturday night, at 11 pm, the dismissal order was issued and handed over to the Rathods at their Wakad police line house.
How it unravelled
The scam began to unravel as soon as mid-day broke the story on June 29, 2016. On reading the front-page report, Bengaluru mountaineer Satyarup Siddhanta realised the couple had stolen his summit photo and morphed their faces on it. He filed a complaint with the Cyber Cell. On learning of the couple's sacking, Satyarup said, "This incident was unfortunate and it's difficult to express my views at this moment, but anything done by wrongful means never succeeds in life."
Last June, eight fellow mountaineers from Maharashtra Anjali Kulkarni, Surendra Shelke and others had also approached the Pune police chief Rashmi Shukla asking for a probe. The matter was under investigation by the police, as well as Nepal's department of tourism, which confirmed that the summit photos of the couple had indeed been morphed. The Rathod's summit certificates were cancelled, and the couple were banned from climbing Everest or any other mountain in Nepal for 10 years.
The couple were also suspended after a fact-finding committee submitted a 267-page report stating: "The Rathods have remained unavailable to clear their stand despite repeated opportunity given to them; there is a lot of mismatch between their claims and the facts that have come out."
Additional Commissioner of Police (administration) Sahebrao Patil said, "The dismissal was carried out based on the fact-finding committee's report and other evidence that we have gathered. The duo are held guilty and dismissed from service permanently due to their actions."
Surendra Shelke, the secretary of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Mountaineering Association, added, "This is great news. We knew they were conning the police department. Their shoes did not match those in the pictures they gave to the media."
The other side
Tarkeshwari told this reporter, "This is really an injustice to us. We were not given an opportunity to clear our stand, we were not heard properly."
She added, "On Saturday, around 11 pm, four male constables approached our house in the absence of my husband, and gave me the notice. This is not done. We will now knock on the court's doors for justice."
The couple had time to clear their stand until May 31, after they were issued a show cause notice by the Pune Commissionerate on May 25. The next day, the couple held a press conference and insisted that they were not lying.
The couple's lawyer, Ramesh Rathod, said, "My clients carried out their summit while they were on leave and not on duty. Their jobs had nothing to do with it."
"They were not heard properly and, till date, they have not got the report from the fact-finding committee, for which they had applied under the Right to Information Act," added the lawyer.
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