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Mountaineer faces an unusual challenge

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Staff Reporter

Eight years after he scaled Mount Everest, Havildar Suresh Kumar is yet to receive his reward from the Government.

ALAPPUZHA: They say Mount Everest has an everlasting effect on those who have scaled its heights. Some, it is said, receive a “lifetime dose of humility.” Meet Havildar S. Suresh Kumar of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and you will know this is true.

The 42-year-old soldier, who is now back in the ITBP after a 10-year stint with the Special Protection Group guarding the Prime Minister, is said to be the only Keralite who has scaled Mount Everest, that too twice. The first was in 1992 when he was part of an international expedition.

“We took the South Col route, on the Nepal side. The second time, in 1996, we took the North Col route, on the China side,” said Mr. Kumar, who is now in town on a holiday. Mr. Kumar is a native of Muthukulam in Kayamkulam,

Mr. Kumar joined the ITBP in 1987. His first tryst with the snowy mountains was in 1991 when he climbed Kanchenjunga. His exploits were noticed and in 1999. The then Kerala State Government led by E.K. Nayanar announced a Rs.5 lakh award for Mr. Kumar. However, courtesy the proverbial red tape, the award is yet to reach the mountaineer, who was part of the Everest expedition as a photographer. His documentaries on the expedition were twice aired on Doordarshan. “I went to meet Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar last week to remind them of the award. But I could not meet them, so I submitted a petition.

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