Two mountain climbers from Kolkata alleged on Wednesday a Pune police couple morphed old photographs atop Mount Everest to claim that they scaled the world’s highest summit, the latest twist in a scandal that has rocked India’s mountaineering community.
Pune residents Dinesh Rathod and wife Tarakeshwari, both police constables, grabbed headlines in May after they claimed to have climbed Mount Everest, the first Indian couple to accomplish the feat.
But controversy engulfed the couple soon after with eight Pune mountaineers pointing out discrepancies in photos that the Rathods claimed to have clicked atop Mount Everest. They alleged the couple never made it to the summit.
Kolkata resident Satyarup Siddhanta alleged Tarakeshwari took a photo showing him atop the mountain and photoshopped her face onto the image. Another photo showing the couple on top of Mount Everest was originally a snap of Siddhanta and his climbing partner Malay Mukhopadhyay, he alleged.
“This is so so so amazing!!!!!! They took my pix and photoshopped their image of summit... and got certificates too... Where is mountaineering going!!!!! Shame on you officers from Pune,” Siddhanta said.
Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla has set up an inquiry to check the authenticity of Rathod’s claim. “Decision about the action will be taken once the inquiry report is submitted,” said Shukla. The couple hasn’t reported back on duty from the leave taken for the Everest expedition.
Dinesh Rathod refused to comment and said he submitted all details to the authorities, including a certificate issued by Nepal authorities. The Rathods, both 30, joined the police force in 2006.
“The jackets and shoes seen in two photographs are different. Moreover direction of shadows of couple contradicts the timing they claimed about reaching the top,” said Anjali Kulkarni, one of the complainants.
The photos of the Bengali mountaineers are ‘clinching evidence’ of the Pune couple’s false claim, Surendra Shelke, one of the complainants, told HT.
“We are sure they were making false claims. Now that mountaineers from Bengal have traced the original photos that were photoshopped, our case becomes stronger,” Shelke told HT.
Veteran mountaineer Debabrata Mukhopadhyay said more such cases will emerge if the claims are properly investigated.