Himalayan Con: Pune constable couple finally suspended

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 09:38 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh |

Five months after a fact-finding committee was set up to probe mid-day’s exposé of a Maharashtra police constable couple’s bogus claim of having summited Mount Everest, the two have been suspended from the police department

Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod being feted. File pic
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod being feted. File pic

Five months after a fact-finding committee was set up to probe mid-day’s exposé of a Maharashtra police constable couple’s bogus claim of having summited Mount Everest, the two have been suspended from the police department based on the committee’s report, said the Pune police commissioner.

Dinesh (in pic) and his wife Tarakeshwari Rathod, both Maharashtra Police constables, doctored images of Satyarup Siddhanta and claimed to be the first couple to reach the summit of Everest. File pic
Dinesh (in pic) and his wife Tarakeshwari Rathod, both Maharashtra Police constables, doctored images of Satyarup Siddhanta and claimed to be the first couple to reach the summit of Everest. File pic

On May 23, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod claimed that they had become the first police couple to summit the world’s tallest peak. On June 17, eight senior members of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Mountaineering Association — Anjali Kulkarni, Sharad Kulkarni, Surendra Shelke, Anand Bansode, Shrikant Chavan, Rupali Chavan, Manisha Waghmare and Amit Singh — approached Pune city police commissioner Rashmi Shukla, raising a doubt on the authenticity of Rathods’ claim, and after which an internal inquiry was constituted.

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

Later, a West Bengal-based techie Satyarup Siddhantha, a climber and currently residing in Bengaluru, too had approached the police, claiming that the pictures the Rathods had displayed of their summit were in fact his.

Facts found
Shukla confirmed the news and said, “Yes, we have suspended them from service based on the committee’s report, which was submitted to me on Tuesday.”

Even the Nepal Department of Tourism confirmed that the couple had indeed morphed the Everest summit pictures of another mountaineer. It has banned them from climbing in Nepal for 10 years.

The committee was constituted under the guidance of Shukla, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (headquarter one) Arvind Chavriya and Assistant Commissioner of Police Ganpat Madgudkar.

Chavriya said, “Since the committee was set up, the couple has remained absent from work; repeated reminders to report to work and for questioning fell on deaf ears. Hence, they have been suspended, based on the evidence submitted. The tourism department, however, still hasn’t sent us the documents and its written confirmation about its action against the Rathods.”

“Now, a departmental inquiry will be constituted against the two; a decision on punishment will be taken as part of it,” he added.

Lies tumble out
A senior officer said, “We have a 267-odd-page report on their wrongdoings with around 30 complaints against them. They had turned up to record their statement on June 27 and then disappeared. In the initial report, they denied all the allegations. Later, our cyber forensic laboratory confirmed that the pictures the two submitted were indeed morphed.”

Read Story: Nepal slaps 10-year climbing ban on Pune cop couple

“The Rathods had claimed to have worn different pairs of shoes on different occasions during their trip, but their bank transactions make no mention of these purchases. Many policemen and local businessmen had helped them and raised around R56 lakh for their climb, but the couple never submitted a proper report on how the money was spent,” he added.

“We had examined a few of our men, who had helped the couple monetarily and also secured sponsorship for them. Their statements have been submitted. Based on that, charges of cheating, fraud, cyber crime as well as misrepresentation and misappropriation of assets will be slapped against them.”

Despite repeated attempts, the couple remained unavailable for comment.

Committee findings
The Rathods have remained unavailable to clear their stand; there is a lot of mismatch between their claims and the facts that have come out. They have remained absent from duty for the last five months. Based on the forensic report, expert opinion and other evidence that has come to light, they have been found guilty of fraud. This incident has not only maligned the image of the Pune city police, but also of the entire Maharashtra police. It has also hurt the India-Nepal relationship.

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