Pune: Six months after they claimed to have become the first married couple in history to scale Mt. Everest, Pune police personnel Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod were suspended from the Maharashtra Police on Thursday for faking the achievement.
Pune Police Commissioner (Mrs.) Rashmi Shukla ordered the suspension and also a full-fledged departmental inquiry against the couple who had "spoiled India's image before the world".
The Rathods purportedly achieved their feat on May 23 this year when they announced summiting Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain peak on the earth standing at 8,848 metres.
Their unique achievement -- coming days after Aurangabad police constable Rafiq Shaikh became the first Maharashtra policeman to scale Mt. Everest -- was billed as a double glory for the state police force and lauded by all.
A few weeks later, however, several mountaineers complained against the couple, accusing them of faking their achievement by showing digitally-altered pictures of them during the climb and the subsequent summiting.
The fraud came to light after Bengaluru-based mountaineer Satyarup Sidhantha exposed the Rathod couple, saying the photos they showed as proof of their achievement actually belonged to him.
Later, Nepal Tourism Board Director-General Sudarshan P. Dhakal imposed a 10-year ban on mountaineering expeditions by the Rathods and cancelled the merit certificate presented to them for their Mt. Everest achievement.
However, their expedition organiser Mohan Lamsal, chief of Kathmandu-based Makalu Adventures, said there was no doubt the Rathods had scaled Mt. Everest and they were taken there by his company's Sherpas on May 23.
Joining the Maharashtra Police in 2006, Dinesh, 30, and Tarakeshwari, 29, got married in 2008 and shared a common passion for mountaineering and adventure sports.
Shortly after the expedition, the Rathods -- both posted at Shivajinagar police station in Pune -- tugged at emotional chords by claiming to have postponed their plans of attaining parenthood till they jointly fulfilled their cherished dream of climbing Mt. Everest.