Imphal: The Manipur Police is now investigating a case against K.K. Singh, father of child climate activist Licypriya Kangujam, for alleged cheating and dishonesty in the procurement and distribution of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, for which his daughter was running a Rs 1-crore fundraiser on online crowdfunding platform Ketto.
This is the fourth case against Singh, who was arrested on 31 May on multiple charges of forgery and cheating.
Red flags surrounding his possible involvement in the fundraising campaign were raised during investigations in these cases, after which the police lodged a suo motu FIR against Singh under Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) Tuesday.
The Ketto fundraiser was started by the 9-year-old early May, in a bid to raise money to distribute oxygen concentrators free of cost to those who needed it the most. The fundraiser had collected over Rs 75 lakh before it was abruptly stopped, following the arrest of her father.
While the funds were raised in Licypriya’s name, the Noble Citizen Foundation, a little known Delhi-based NGO with links to K.K. Singh, was in charge of procurement and distribution of the concentrators and cylinders.
Finally, I’m ready to dispatch 100 B-Type Oxygen Cylinder for the people of Manipur. It will reach Imphal by Wednesday or Thursday. Thanks everyone for your love and supports! ♥️🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/0E2c7jdk7T
— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) May 22, 2021
“During our investigations, we discovered he (Singh) was privy to how the funds were being handled. We are still investigating his role fully, but it was enough to file another case against him,” a senior Manipur Police officer, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
Some of the concentrators and oxygen cylinders had been sent to Manipur, where Singh’s associate Oliver Moirangthem was found to be selling them instead of giving them out for free, said the police.
“The NGO, too, will be questioned and their role investigated,” said the officer quoted above.
Singh was admitted to Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital Thursday after he tested positive for Covid-19. Investigations will continue when his condition improves, police officers said.
Past cases against KK Singh
Singh was arrested on 31 May in a joint operation by the Manipur Police and the Delhi Police Special Cell after the Ministry of External Affairs took cognisance of a complaint by a Nepalese citizen claiming Singh had duped him of Rs 30,000.
The complainant, Prajesh Khanal, said Singh had collected funds in the name of his organisation, the International Youth Committee, promising participation in various summits and events that never took place.
ThePrint found that over a dozen young people from across five countries had been similarly cheated.
The Manipur Police has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to look into the complaints against the organisation.
“We have the testimonies of around 30 to 40 people — from India and abroad — who were duped by K.K. Singh. He collected an estimated Rs 37 lakh ($46,000) from people,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi, an officer who is part of the SIT.
Other police teams are looking into three other FIRs against Singh, involving older cases of forgery and cheating as well as a land scam.
No chargesheet has been filed yet, but is expected “soon”, said officers.
Child panel on minor activist
The Child Welfare Committee in Delhi, meanwhile, is acting on a complaint about media houses using the child activist’s name, given she is a minor, and will be seeking her out for counselling.
“We are likely to receive a response from the CWC after a week or so. They will meet her to make an inquiry, make sure she is safe, take her views, and offer counselling if necessary,” said Mohammed Salam Khan, senior consultant with the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.