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Maharashtra police couple suspended for perpetrating Everest climb hoax

Handout photo shows Dinesh Rathod, a Maharashtra Police constable holding a department flag after “scaling Mt. Everest”. Nepal has declared the claim as fake. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, the Maharashtra police couple who were recently slapped a 10-year ban by the Nepal government for falsifying claims of their ascent on Mount Everest, have now been suspended from the Pune Police for failing to testify before a departmental probe panel.

Confirming this, Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla told The Hindu that the duo failed to show up to defend charges levelled against them and that they had been given enough and more time to clear their names.

“The very fact that they have not bothered to turn up despite claiming they would do so soon points to their firm guilt. As a result, we have decided to place them under indefinite suspension beginning today,” Ms. Shukla said, remarking that the duo had tarnished the good name of the police force by their act of ignominy.

Late last month, the duo, through their lawyer, said that they would present themselves before the inquiry committee soon after Diwali.

The reason given by their lawyer for not appearing all this while was that they were ostensibly busy seeking information under the Right to Information Act in a bid to clear their names.

The Rathods have not reported for duty at the city’s Shivajinagar police station (where they are posted) for more than three months, even as their claims of ostensibly succeeding in the gruelling ascent to the top of the 8,848 metre Mt. Everest steadily unravelled.

On June 5, 2016, the Rathods (both aged 30), had jubilantly announced their achievement at a press conference where they touted that they were the first Indian couple and the first security personnel couple to conquer the Everest on May 23, 2016, thereby setting a record of sorts.

In late June 2016, a team led by city-based mountaineer Surendra Shelke, conferred with Ms. Shukla while alleging that the duo had “photoshopped” pictures of their ascent to the summit.

The group had alleged that no one seemed to have seen the duo beyond base camp nor had they completed the gruelling preliminary necessary for the climb.

The duo’s claims finally came apart after Satyarup Siddhanta, a Bengaluru-based software engineer from Kolkata, lodged a complaint with the Kolkata cyber crime police in July, alleging that the police couple had morphed pictures of his expedition of June 21, 2016 by superimposing themselves on it and that Makalu Treks – the company which organised the Rathods’ expedition — in turn had uploaded the photo on their website with their watermark.

In this wake, the Nepal government had ordered a thorough investigation to check the veracity of the claims made by the Rathods in face of mounting clamour by fellow mountaineers that the duo had faked their ascent to the top of the summit. The Pune Police, too, in tandem had conducted a probe and had recorded statements of the couple and their fellow mountaineers.

In late August 2016, the Nepal government finally >announced a ban on the duo for making phoney claims and submitting doctored photos. It had further barred the duo from entering the country and conducting further expeditions there.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 5:59:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Maharashtra-police-couple-suspended-for-perpetrating-Everest-climb-hoax/article16644632.ece

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