14 June, 2021

The Sins Of The Father

Licypriya Kangujam should have been the toast of town, our own Greta. Instead, the 9-year-old Manipuri climate activist now has to navigate the smog left behind by a conman father.

The Sins Of The Father

Kanarjit Kangujam, father of Manipuri climate activist Licypriya Kangujam, has been arrested on charges of forgery and cheating, and is facing severe criticism for using his minor daughter enact his elaborate scam that spans several countries.

Kangujam (in pic) was arr­ested on May 31 from Delhi where he has been ­“absconding” since 2016 after leaving his home state Manipur, where he is being probed by pol­ice for multiple charges of cheating. Delhi Police acted on a request from their Manipur counterparts, who had put out a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information on his whereabouts.

Licypriya, 9, known as the Indian Greta Thunberg after the young Swedish activist, is well known ­globally since she ­add­ressed the COP25 ­climate conference in Madrid in 2019, when she was just eight and had alr­eady dropped out of school to give wings to her dreams. She had urged the world to “act now against climate change” at the meet and later ­fam­ously staged a demonstration in front of Parliament in New Delhi, urging the government to act to ­protect the environment.

Sources in Manipur Police told Outlook that Kanarjit was being ­interrogated by three teams. “He was a big catch as we have been looking for him for some time after receiving complaints of cheating against him,” a source said, adding they were hopeful of cracking the cases soon. “There is nothing to connect the cases with Licypriya yet, but we will see what further investigation has to throw up,” he said.

It was a complaint from a student from Nepal that finally landed Kanarjit in the police net. According to the complaint, Kanarjit had conned him into paying to his organisation, the International Youth Committee (IYC). Prajesh Kanhal, the Nepali student, had reportedly ­complained that the IYC had ­allegedly taken money from him in 2018 for participation in an ­international conference that ­eventually never took place. The organisation ref­used to refund the money, forcing Kanhal to lodge a complaint with the Indian embassy in Nepal in 2020, which then took up the ­matter with the home ministry. Several others are also said to have suffered a fate similar to Kanhal at the hands of the IYC.

The organisation is alleged to have instituted various awards in the past, with several of these being won by none other than Licypriya herself, helping her to become known as a young crusader for the cause of the environment.

By Dipankar Roy in Guwahati

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