Inconsistencies, misrepresentation of the crowd funding initiative and the lack of clarification over the 100 Oxygen Concentrators sent free from Taiwan vis à vis the ongoing fund drive for the same number need much more stringent scrutiny.
Even as many individuals are getting together to contribute donations to efforts towards addressing the Covid situation in Manipur, the most talked about act is undoubtedly the Ketto crowd funding drive allegedly orchestrated by infamous conman Kangujam Karnajit Singh alias KK Singh using his daughter and climate change activist as a front for his nefarious plan. Kangujam Karnajit is allegedly capitalising on the fame of his nine-year-old daughter, who first made an appeal for donations for Oxygen concentrators to her foreign friends for India on April 21 as updated on her Facebook page.
Another update on the same social media handle on April 27 has the activist saying “I am begging Taiwan Foreign Ministry” along with a screenshot of a communication with the facebook handle of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ROC), Taiwan. Till this point of time, there was no mention or link to the Noble Citizen Foundation, the agency whose name is being pasted on all concentrators being distributed through the child activist’s initiative.
As per a Facebook update on May 3, 100 Oxygen Concentrators had reached New Delhi. The photos of all the boxes in the consignment show very clear images of a ‘Love from Taiwan’ sticker which hints at the huge possibility that this is a shipment leading from the communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In between the communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ROC) of Taiwan, an appeal for crowdfunding “to help people across the country get immediate access to oxygen concentrators” and that she was placing an order for 100 Oxygen Concentrators and that “each one would cost ₹50,000 per piece including shipping. Total 100 pieces ordered. I’m trying my best by spending my own savings and some from my awards received last year.”
The appeal for funds on Ketto does not mention anything about the Noble Citizen Foundation as of now but the text is being constantly edited from time to time. In the photos of concentrators accompanying the appeal, the name of the non-government company is prominently shown. The question now is: are the 100 concentrators donated from Taiwan being used to prop up the crowd funding appeal and to prop up the young activist’s profile further as well as that of the Noble Citizen Foundation? It was only on May 6 that the activist put up a statement that she had transferred an amount of ₹12,00,000/- “to a small sincere organisation in Delhi called Noble Citizen Foundation to carry out the ground work. To maintain transparency in my fundraising campaign, I have decided to transfer the whole raised amount to this Foundation. They will procure and do the distribution works of Oxygen Concentrator to the needy people.”
A quick fact checking on Noble Citizen Foundation establishes the fact that it was registered as a company in September last year. Its CEO Sahil Kaushar has ties to the International Youth Committee (IYC), which was reportedly headed by Kangujam Karnajit, the father of the child activist. Kaushar was earlier honoured with a ‘Peace Medal’ and by an NGO based in Maldives whose top official was allegedly a board member of the IYC. Kaushar was awarded a ‘National Youth Icon Award’ in 2019 when he was heading an organization called Save the Beggar. The ‘award’ was conferred by none other than IYC. The circle gets complete with the minor climate change activist being conferred the Noble Citizen Award last year!
While many might prefer to toe the line that “at least oxygen concentrators are being given to the people of Manipur”, the matter is also of principle and ethics for there are hundreds of people donating their hard-earned money for Covid relief, people abroad and in the country who want to help after seeing the toll of the Covid second wave sweeping across the country. The same money could be given to other reliable organisations in Manipur and elsewhere that have a track record of transparency.
Many of the photos being used in the young activist’s profile as well as the appeal on Ketto to depict the impact of Covid in the country are well-publicised photos depicting mass cremations and despair in hospitals, photos that have been published and all allegedly used without any credit being given to the photojournalists in question or photo news agency.
After The Frontier Manipur carried a story detailing how the rise of the climate change activist has been mirroring that of her father who has a history of fake award claims and carrying out fraudulent means by floating various events through NGOs and organizations, there has been a series of efforts to prove the transparency and accountability behind the crowdfunding effort. But all the paperwork interestingly further doubts about the motive of the initiative of providing for 100 Oxygen Concentrators. Additionally, these proofs add contradictions to the chain of events that have been posted in public before our story broke.
On May 7, the social media page of the activist updated about an import advance payment to ‘Guangzhou Minicky Trading Co. Ltd with its address at the 9th Floor, South Tower at the Xijiao Business Center, Qiaozhong Road, Liwan District in Guangzhou.’ A little more fact checking shows clearly that while the Business Center exists, there is no listing of a ‘Guangzhou Minicky Trading Co Ltd’ in the said address. A quick check on Google on the trading company shows listings for some interesting results but none that link such a company to any manufacturer or supplier of Oxygen Concentrators.
Meanwhile on Ketto, the updates for transparency of the crowd funding initiative threw up another round of confusion. There is a series of unsigned and unverified tax invoices being put with Noble Citizen Foundation as the buyer and MH Trading Co at Pitampura in North West as the supplier or seller. But a Google search for MH Trading Co will show listings for a wholesale dealer of tools at Ajmeri Gate which is not in the same location as mentioned in the ‘tax invoice’; a lamination service located in Sadar Bazar towards Old Delhi and a computer store at Kanti Nagar East, Seelampur in Shahdara. Additionally, the address of the Noble Citizen Foundation as mentioned on the tax invoice does not match the company address on their web site. One may well say, they could have shifted address and forgotten to update on their website but the list of inconsistencies have their own story to sell.
But the fact is that two different sets of paper work for the same crowd funding initiative are being furnished on two different social media sites: Facebook and Ketto. The information on each set looks authentic but fails the most simple of verification as the names of the firms and addresses do not match nor do the said firms manufacture or supply Oxygen Concentrators.
It is these very inconsistencies that need to be probed further by the Manipur police. The very nature of misrepresentation of the crowd funding initiative that does not mention the ties between an organisation that is not even a non-profit organization apart from it being registered just last year to Karnajit Kangujam and the lack of clarification over the 100 Oxygen Concentrators sent free from Taiwan vis à vis the ongoing fund drive for the same number needs much more stringent scrutiny.