New Delhi: Licypriya Kangujam, the eight-year-old girl from Manipur who rose to fame by campaigning for a climate change law, has now been accused of faking her achievements.
She, however, denies the allegations.
Kangujam had Friday made waves when she rejected the #SheInspiresUs tag Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come up with ahead of International Women’s Day. She had also refused to be among the women to take over his Twitter account.
“Dear @narendramodi Ji, Please don’t celebrate me if you are not going to listen to my voice. Thank you for selecting me amongst the inspiring women of the country under your initiative #SheInspiresUs. After thinking many times, I decided to turn down this honour,” she had tweeted.
Dear @narendramodi Ji,
Please don’t celebrate me if you are not going to listen my voice.
Thank you for selecting me amongst the inspiring women of the country under your initiative #SheInspiresUs. After thinking many times, I decided to turns down this honour. 🙏🏻
Jai Hind! pic.twitter.com/pjgi0TUdWa
— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) March 6, 2020
On Sunday, however, political activist Angellica Aribam referred to an article in the Imphal Free Press that appeared last April, and allegedly found some of Kangujam’s claims of speaking at a UN function in 2019 to be false.
I thought of ignoring this but since everyone seems to be interested in @LicypriyaK, let me indulge you.
Last April, 7yo Licypriya Kangujam claimed to be on her way to the UN headquarters in Geneva to address a ‘global UN session’ for ‘Disaster Risks Reduction’ (1/n)
— Angellica Aribam (@AngellicAribam) March 7, 2020
Other journalists and activists have also alleged that several of the awards she has been conferred with — including the ‘Peace Award’ by the Global Peace Index — were actually handed out by organisations her father, K.K. Singh, is associated with.
Kangujam and Singh, however, told ThePrint through Twitter that the allegations were “baseless”, and that the accusers were making her a “controversial figure” by “polarising people” due to her “rejection of PM Modi’s honour”.
“How many fathers are going to push people to give their daughters awards?” she asked. “If I wanted and was fond of achievements, then I might have gone today and met with PM Narendra Modi to take over his social media account. I’m one of the women who was offered it.”
Kangujam said since she turned down the PM, she was being harassed by trolls. “My rejection was actually not against anyone,” she said. “I just wanted people to be aware of the global climate crisis and the government to take my demand seriously.”
On the allegations, she further said, “They are just attempting to malign my image.”
The allegations against father and daughter
In April 2019, the International Youth Conference, an organisation chaired by Kangujam’s father, put out a press release saying she had been invited to speak at a global UN session on ‘Disaster Risks Reduction’. An article in East Mojo, however, found that she was not invited to speak at the event, but did attend it.
In September 2019, news of Kangujam winning the World Children Peace Prize 2019 from the Sydney-based Global Peace Index also made the rounds. The award was handed to Kangujam by Charles Allen, Executive Director of Institute for Economics & Peace, in the Maldives.
The Global Peace Index has clarified over Twitter that it did not hand out the award, but that it had been conferred by the “organisers” of the event.
Hi Kumar — our Director of Partnerships Charles Allen was asked to present the award which was conferred by the event organisers. We do not issue awards, and do not have an award program in place.
— Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) January 27, 2020
“I did not want to raise the issue before, or make it too public because she’s only a child,” said Kumar Manish, a former journalist who had reached out to Global Peace Index for clarification earlier this year. “When I did some digging, I found that her father chaired several of the organisations that have given her awards.”
Singh, however, denied having played a part in any of Kangujam’s awards. “How can I ask others to invite her? People love and honour her, which is why she is given awards, but they are not doing it at my behest,” he said.
‘Father has a criminal record’
The Imphal Free Press article also claimed that Singh, chairman of the International Youth Conference, had been arrested in 2015 after being charged under sections 420 (fraud), 324 (assault) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) under the Indian Penal Code. He had allegedly held a ‘World Youth Summit’ and owed a caterer Rs 19 lakh.
Singh is also the “founder” of several youth summits and award programmes, according to his website. Some of these include the Global Youth Meet, World Youth Summit, South Asian Youth Summit, Africa Youth Forum, Asia-Pacific Youth Forum, World Youth General Assembly, and the World Youth Prize.
Asked about these matters, Singh admitted he did have some financial struggles. “I was unable to pay the food bill for the 2015 event we held, but I am in the process of paying that money back. But that doesn’t make me and my work fraudulent. IFP (Imphal Free Press) has worked to tarnish my image for some years, and is now targeting my daughter,” he said.