Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, both serving constables with Pune police, announced they scaled Everest on May 23, becoming the first Indian couple to do so.

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THE Nepal government has imposed a 10-year ban on a police couple from Pune who had allegedly bluffed about scaling Mount Everest on May 23. Nepal officials have told Pune police a letter has been sent to inform them of the decision to bar the couple from entering Nepal for that period, Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla told The Indian Express Sunday.

“This means the probe ordered by Nepal government has confirmed the two had lied about scaling Everest… This is indeed shocking. The couple have tarnished the image not only of police force but of the whole country,” Shukla said.

Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, both 30 and serving constables with Pune police, held a press meet in Kathmandu on June 5 and announced they scaled Everest on May 23, becoming the first Indian couple to do so. The two are posted at Shivajinagar headquarters of Pune city police.

Shukhla said she will initiate “strong” action against the couple. Asked if they can be arrested, she said the action will be as per laid-down norms.

She said the couple have been absconding since the Pune police initiated a departmental inquiry against them. “The two have disappeared without a trace even as we were conducting the inquiry,” she said.

Senior officials added the couple might not be arrested, but could face demotion or have their annual increments stopped. Officials said by remaining out of bounds for the probe, the couple have “already confirmed they had done something wrong”.

Days after the couple’s press briefing, a group of mountaineers had approached Pune police alleging they had faked their expedition. Surendra Shelke, one of the complainants and secretary of a city-based mountaineering association, had alleged the couple had morphed pictures and there were discrepancies in their description of the summit. The Pune police probe followed.

A mountaineer from Kolkata had told this paper that he and another climber had scaled Everest on May 21 and their pictures were misused by the duo. “I had scaled Mt Everest along with another climber and two sherpas on May 21,” Satyrup Siddhantha, a software engineer working in Bangalore, had said. He said he had given his pictures to some people, including sherpas at the base camp.

“They had copied the pictures into their pen drives. They might have shared the pictures with other climbers,” he said. Siddhantha had uploaded his pictures onFacebook on June 2.