KATHMANDU, Nepal — The mountaineering community was dubious in June, when Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod announced that they had achieved a lifelong goal, becoming the first Indian couple to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.
Those doubts were confirmed this week when Nepalese authorities said that the Rathods, both police officers in the Indian state of Maharashtra, had doctored photographs submitted to the government in applying for a certificate of a successful climb. The couple were barred from climbing Nepal’s mountains for 10 years.
“They provided fake, cropped pictures to prove that they summited Everest,” said Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, director general of the Nepalese Department of Tourism, in a telephone interview Monday.
The action against the climbers highlights the importance of Everest for an impoverished Nepal, which is reeling after a devastating earthquake last year. Veteran climbers and experts said they had never known Nepal to take such drastic action for a faked climb of the peak.
The couple have been keeping a low profile since they made their claim at a news conference in Kathmandu.
Indian police officials said that the couple had not been seen lately and that they had not reported to their jobs in Maharashtra, where a separate investigation is underway.
Indian climbers had been quick to accuse the Rathods of altering the photographs.
One climber, Satyarup Siddhanta, told the police in India that the couple had used photographs he had shot of his ascent.
Surendra Shelke, a complainant against the couple, told the Press Trust of India that the two had appeared in different sets of clothing in the photographs, even though climbers hardly ever change gear on the mountain for fear of frostbite.