The arrest of rent-a-cause activist Licypriya Kangujam’s father has opened a can of worms with many people coming to the fore to share anecdotes of how they were duped by fraudster Kanarjit Kangujam.
Projecting his 9-year-old daughter as the face of a national and international ‘climate activism’ campaign, Licypriya’s father Kanarjit Kangujam has reportedly duped nearly 100 children from 12 countries under the garb of activism as per a Vice report. The fraud amount is estimated to be approximately $44,685, just from fees collected from students.
Paojel Chaoba, a Manipuri investigative journalist, in an interview to the Vice revealed how the ‘too good to be true’ tall claims made by Kanarjit Kangujam led to journalists flocking his events.
In 2015, a Manipuri news outlet quoted Kangujam saying that politician and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and now-ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be attending a youth conference organized by International Youth Committee, a shady organisation run by Kangujam where he portrayed his daughter as ‘India’s Greta Thurnberg’.
“Myanmar’s supreme leader visiting our small state sounded too wild to be true,” remarked Chaoba in the Vice report.
To add to this were other claims, including a supposed nomination for Licipriya to the “Global Youth Icon Award 2015” jointly with Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize 2014 winner) and Felix Finkbeiner (German Child Activists).
Journalist who exposed Licypriya’s father compared him to Charles Sobhraj
Chaoba who not only published several articles exposing Kangujam but also helped with the police investigation called Kanarjit absolutely “brilliant.” Comparing Kangujam to a 1970s serial killer who targeted tourists in Asia, he said, “He is like the Charles Sobhraj of Manipur – minus the looks and murders.”
The alleged scams committed by Kangujam by preying on earnest activists revealed how he looted children activists across the globe using logos of the UN and UNESCO to legitimize his events.
Through IYC, Kangujam claimed to host international-level seminars for activists from India, Nepal, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Croatia. He even collected fees citing exchange programs and activities but the contributors never saw any exchange programs, the report stated.
Modus operandi of Kanarjit Kangujam
A source on the condition of anonymity informed OpIndia that Kangujam would create hoax events with well-drafted documents claiming that the UN, UNESCO and the government of India are hosting an exchange program.
He would then call for participants, misusing the logos of the global entities. The proceeds of the participation fee would go into his personal account, informed the source.
Kangujam claimed to host events in Japan, Europe and Mauritius for which he collected hefty participation fees, however, the events never took place. When the volunteers called up the respective organizations and ministries to confirm the event, each one of them declined to know Kangujam or the so-called events planned by him.
When the participants asked for refunds, he declined, threatening elimination from the program which would make them ineligible for any refunds and passed every complaint to the volunteers to handle.
Licypriya’s father duped children in the name ‘exchange programs’
As per a document shared by the source, Kangujam drafted budget documents to justify the participation fee.
With this, he duped several Pakistani participants to the tune of $160 each, Bhutanese participants of $300-420 each and Mauritian participants of €1200 each. As per the source, the participation fee varied as per nationality and sometimes individually.
As per the Vice report, a legal complaint by Prajesh Khanal, a youth activist from Nepal led to Kangujam’s arrest.
“I only interacted with him on messenger and email, and to be honest, he looked very legit,” confessed the 20-year-old to Vice World News. Khanal revealed to have paid over $460 for an exchange program, which is yet to be refunded.
Kangujam’s arrest led to more participants revealing how they were duped by the ‘activist’. Pallabi Roy, a dentist from Delhi, informed that she along with her friend paid $410 each in 2017 for an IYC event.
“It’s just unfair to my family that worked hard and funded this trip,” said the 24-year-old, who is now preparing to file a criminal case against Kangujam, as per the Vice report.
Simardeep Syal from India almost lost $273 to Kangujam until he filed a police complaint in 2020. “He has a pattern,” the 24-year-old revealed. “He shows off his so-called connections. And for people, when someone claims political connections, they tend to believe them. I did too,” Syal added.
Licypriya Kangujam’s Ketto campaign
Additionally, Licypriya Kangujam’s Ketto campaign reeks of possible FCRA violation. We reported earlier how multiple discrepancies were found in a fundraising campaign being run by Licypriya and questionable association with Noble Citizen Foundation.
Kanarjit Kangujam arrested by Delhi Police
As of now, Kangujam Kanarjit has been arrested in a joint operation by Delhi Police and Manipur Police on 31 May and was be produced before the Court.
Kanarjit has been accused of cheating multiple people, with amounts as high as Rs 19 lakh. In 2015, he was arrested in Manipur with charges of criminal case number 176 of 2015 under Section 420 (Fraud), 324 (Assault) and 406 (Criminal breach of trust).
Kanarjit had also invented the fake achievements of daughter Licypriya Kangujam in order to propel her to international fame. In Multiple press investigations and reports, it was found that Licypriya’s so-called UN invite and other attendances were all fake, cunningly drafted and used by her father for media hype.