Nepal on Tuesday banned an Indian couple from mountaineering in the country for ten years, after they doctored a photo to acquire a highly sought-after summit certificate despite failing to scale Mount Everest.
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, both police constables in the Indian city of Pune, claimed they scaled the world’s highest peak on May 23.
But Indian climbers raised doubts about the claim, leading to an investigation into the climbers’ purported feat one and a half months after Nepali officials issued the certificate.
"The couple superimposed another Indian climber’s photo and submitted it as a proof of their summit. After an investigation, we have banned them for ten years from mountaineering in Nepal," Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, director general of the Department of Tourism, said.
The couple used the photos of Satyarupa Siddhanta, an Indian climber who reached the top of Everest on May 21, Dhakal said.
A three-member panel investigated the claim for a month and were supported by the Indian police. The panel submitted its report to the government last week.
The organizer of the couple's failed expedition, Makalu Adventure Travel, was exempt from punishment "for the company’s co-operation in the investigation," Dhakal said.
"But the two Sherpas, who helped with the couple’s expedition, are still under investigation."
The Sherpas, who supported the couple's false claim, failed to show when called in for investigation, Dhakal continued, adding that the couple’s certificates would be revoked.
More than 4,000 climbers have summited Mount Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top for the first time on May 29, 1953.