Licypriya Kangujam may only be nine years old, but the young climate change activist is no stranger to controversy. She has taken on politicians, turned down an invitation to run Prime Minister Narendra Modi's social media accounts and more recently, lent her weight to the fight against COVID-19. But beyond the accomplishments lie what critics would have you believe is a murky world of fakery and deception.
Licypriya is the daughter of Dr Kangujam Karnajit, a self-proclaimed youth leader from Manipur who has previously been arrested on charges of fraud, assault and breach of trust. And the allegations of deception all appear to link back to him. An avid Twitter user, Licypriya's social media account is handled by her 'guardian'.
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, and India remained in the grips of a far deadlier second wave, Licypriya took to Twitter announcing her intention to help. A quick perusal of her profile will show numerous posts soliciting help, or outlining what aid had been procured and given out.
"Hi Arvind Kejriwal Sir! Can I donate some Oxygen Concentrators to you for the people of Delhi? I am raising funds for the last 3 weeks to help the people with Oxygen," read a recent tweet. In another post she shared images of the medical equipment that had been procured, urging people to continue to lend a helping hand.
But it is here that the controversy began. As Licypriya tweeted out updates, many noticed that the images she used were in some cases identical to news updates shared by official handles and media organisations. The examples that were flagged appear to be Facebook posts that used a zoomed in or cropped version of the original images.
The activist however was quick to hit back, sharing details about the funs received and the relevant transaction details. "So far, we have received a total amount of ₹46,79,276 from Ketto out of 73 lakhs raised so far. And I have given total funds of ₹56,92,000 to Noble Citizen Foundation till yesterday for buying Oxygen Concentrators and distribution works," she tweeted.
"Anyone can verify those RTGS transactions numbers & slips of HDFC bank of funds transfer to their Standard Chartered Bank branch located at Parliament Street, New Delhi. We use representative images of COVID19 situation in India for the fundraising campaign to tell the world!" she defended in a follow up post.
This however is not the first time that Licypriya has found herself in the middle of such a controversy. In 2019, the activist made headlines amid claims that she was going to represent India as a speaker at the United Nations. Soon however, contradictory claims emerged, with local newspapers carrying out an investigation to disprove the claim.
Another controversial incident was when reports indicated that she was receiving an award from the Global Peace Index. While it remained unclear as to how things had developed, many laid the blame squarely with her father.