- High-level investigation committee finds faked photographs were used as evidence of Everest summit
- Recommends ban on Dinesh Chandrakant Rathod and his wife Tarkeshwari Chandrakant Bhelarao from visiting Nepal for mountaineering for at least 10 years
- Indian climber Satyarup Siddhanta’s photographs were morphed by Rathods
- Department of Tourism to delist two climbing Sherpas as well from official summiteers’ record
KATHMANDU: A high-level committee recommended ban on the Indian police couple, who duped the Nepali authorities to obtain certificates of Mt Everest summit, from visiting Nepal for mountaineering activities for at least 10 years.
The three-member investigation panel, led by Under Secretary Tika Ram Pandey at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, concluded that the photographs that Dinesh Chandrakant Rathod and his wife Tarkeshwari Chandrakant Bhelerao of Maharastra, India submitted to the Department of Tourism as evidence of their Everest summit in the last spring season were but doctored.
It told the DoT to cancel the Everest summit certificates awarded to them and prevent them from Nepal from mountaineering activities for at least 10 years.
Under Secretary Laxman Sharma, who is also a member of the committee, confirmed that a month-long investigation proved that the Rathods made a false claim of having reached the summit point on May 23 as they morphed the photographs while applying for the summit certificates.
“The panel which also submitted its report to MoCTCA Secretary Prem Kumar Rai this evening has recommended to nullify summit certificates which were issued to them on June 10,” he said, adding that the couple would be banned from visiting Nepal for mountaineering for at least 10 years as per the existing Tourism Act and Mountaineering Regulation.
The photos submitted by the Rathod couple were found faked after Satyarup Siddhanta, an Indian climber from Bangalore, accused the couple of doctoring his photographs atop the Mt Everest on May 21.
“During the investigation, panel summoned the expedition organising agency – Makalu Adventure Treks and the liaison officer – Ganesh Prasad Timsina among others to check the veracity of the couple’s claim,” he shared.
After receiving an application for the summit certificates from Makalu Adventure Treks, the DoT had not consulted the climbing Sherpas — Furba from Sankhuwasabha and Fursemba from Solukhumbu — who accompanied the Rathods to Everest region while Timsina, an officer at Kakarvitta Tourism Office in Jhapa, also verified the couple’s claim, saying he was at the Everest Base Camp for 13 days to monitor their activities.
The panel also recommended for delisting the names of both climbing Sherpas from the official summiteers’ record at DoT.
It, however, has remained silent over the legal action against the liaison officer and the agency which were also linked to the goof-up.
“The panel has failed to seek any action against government liaison officer as well as agency as there were over 40 government officers who charged up to USD 3000 each from the expeditions this season without serving the world climbers as prescribed in the mountaineering regulation,” a DoT official said.
DoT Director General Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal said DoT would take action against the Rathods as per the panel’s recommendations immediately after receiving the report from the ministry.
Action as per Tourism Act:
The Government of Nepal may ban a mountaineering expedition team or its any member from entering into Nepal for a period up to five years or ban for mountaineering in Nepal for a period up to 10 years for violating the provisions of the Act or Rules framed thereunder or conditions specified in the permit and committing any immoral conduct or behaviour whilst on mountaineering period.