Nepal prepares to blacklist Indian couple for Everest summit manipulation

KATHMANDU: The Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has initiated a process to ban the Indian police couple from visiting Nepal for mountaineering for at least 10 years and cancel their Everest summit certificates.

Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, Director General at the DoT, said the DoT recommended the MoCTCA to take a formal decision to impose a 10-year ban on Dinesh Chandrakant Rathod and his wife Tarkeshwari Chandrakant Bhelerao of Maharashtra from visiting Nepal for mountaineering expedition by cancelling the summit certificates that the couple obtained from the Government of Nepal by submitting faked photos on June 10.

After receiving a written clarification from Makalu Adventure Treks today, the DoT concluded that the couple had obtained summit certificates from the DoT by submitting doctored photos of their summit attempts to the top of Mt Everest, he added.

“As per the Tourism Act, Department of Tourism has notified the Ministry that the government, may ban them from entering into Nepal for a period up to five years or ban for mountaineering in Nepal for a period up to 10 years if a mountaineering expedition team or its any member commits any immoral conduct or behaviour whilst on mountaineering period,” he said.

The MoCTCA would form a high-level panel to take a final decision on the matter, the Director General informed. According to him, the panel would again check the veracity of claims made by the Indian couple of having reached the summit of the world’s highest peak in the last spring climbing season.

“The expedition organising company also admitted in its clarification that the photos were morphed,” Dhakal said. He added that Makalu Adventure Treks, however, blamed the climbing Sherpas for the goof-up.

“The company accused the climbing Sherpas – Furba from Sankhuwasabha and Fursemba from Solukhumbu, who accompanied the Rathods to Everest expedition -- of helping the Rathods to play foul.”

“Department of Tourism will also take necessary action against the Liaison Officer, climbing Sherpas and expedition organising company,” he said. But, the DG is not sure what actions the DoT could take against them.

The DoT awarded the couple with summit certificates on June 10 endorsing their claims of having reached the summit in the early morning of May 23. The photos submitted by Rathod couple to DoT as a proof were found faked after Satyarup Siddhantha, a climber from Bangalore, accused Rathod couple of plagiarising his summit photos while the Bengaluru climber scaled the mountain on May 21.

According to Mohan Lamsal, Managing Director at Makalu Adventure Treks, both climbing Sherpas who assisted the Rathods are still out of reach. As the department had not consulted with the climbing Sherpas, the team’s liaison officer Ganesh Prasad Timsina who heads Karakvitta tourism office in Jhapa, approved the Rathods’ claims.