By Chitra Ahanthem & PaojelChaoba
Thanks to technology, one no longer has to wait for breaking stories to appear in print. In fact, breaking stories are reaching readers online across the globe within minutes of an actual event or incident.
But if there’s something that online breaking news cannot commit to: it is factual accuracy, as social media places more importance on how many likes, shares and comments a post can garner, letting things to escalate without providing the true picture.
We bring to our readers how a fact checking of a viral news about a seven-year-old student from the state attending a UN event disappeared in a matter of hours after IFP did fact checking and contacted the website that broke the news.
On Tuesday, April 23, there was a buzz among social media users: the news of a 7 year old girl from Manipur all set to address the United Nations in the Sixth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risks Reduction 2019 to be held from 13 – 17 May 2019 at the United Nations Headquarter, Geneva, Switzerland under the theme “Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies”. The news appeared in https://www.northeasttoday.in, a website which carries news from the North East region. Very soon, the news was circulated in various social media platforms with most people hailing the development.
The North East Today story gave no further information about the young girl except her name and age, mentioning that she was the world’s youngest participant invited for the UN event convened by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and Government of Switzerland. The news further said that the child was working as a Child Disaster Risks Reduction Advocate in International Youth Committee (IYC). The exclusion of the names of the parents was the first hint that the news might not be true at all. The UN event site showed that registrations for delegates were still going on and none of the speakers were finalized yet. Also, the themes and the nature of event showed involvement and participation of high level policy makers. IFP on a hunch called up Amit Singh who is listed as Editor of the site that carried the news.
Amit Singh at first expressed he was not aware of the said news item as he was on a break and was travelling. When pointed out that a story of such import would need fact checking and that the UN event website did not mention any speakers, the Editor assured a revert on the veracity of the news. Soon a press release that was the basis of the news item was forwarded to us: a press release made out under the aegis of the International Youth Committee (IYC) which had only part of an address and a PIN number that Google traced as that of Safdarjung in New Delhi. Initially, all Google searches for such an office threw up only the site of the IYC but no complete address which made IFP to communicate with Amit Singh, the editor of the news site for a joint investigation. The proposal is still left pending at the time of filing this report but in a matter of time after the feedback on the lack of a complete address was flagged off, Google showed additional results: a road name and a building block number.
IFPs fact finding into the people behind the International Youth Committee (IYC) showed interesting results: its chairman is listed as Dr. KK Singh. The photo listed is that of Kangujam Kanarjit which IFP exposed as a con man in 2015.
The man behind the IYC turned out to be none other than Kangujam Kanarjit, who is behind the Global Youth Summit and World Youth Summit held at Imphal. The man is charged of cheating and fraud.
He had victimized many businessmen and other individuals assuring that the money they had put into organizing the summit would be paid back with profit which never happened in totality. Many at present are still reeling in debt following his fraudulent activity.
He has several cases pending against him in Manipur state and was arrested before in 2015.The Police registered a case under criminal case number 176 of 2015 under Section 420 (Fraud), 324 (Assault) and 406 (Criminal breach of trust) and arrested him from his residence. The main complainant was a caterer whom he owed around 19 lakhs for hosting his World Youth Summit. He also sold some properties which did not belong to him to different individuals. A place he had rented in Porompat and carried out his clandestine activities under the Club 25 banner was allegedly sold to three different individuals without the knowledge of the real owner. Kanarjit was later released on an interim bail and has been an absconder since.
As of now, the breaking story on the news site has been found removed even as social media handles continue to share the news, including that of the Chief Minister of Manipur who has retweeted it while the Governor of Manipur has posted a note of congratulations on Facebook sharing the news. IFP has written to the organizing committee of the UN event at the time of filing this story.
~IFPTags: International Youth Committee Licypriya Kangujam United Nations Disaster Risks Reduction