Two infographics (one in English and the other in Hindi) are viral on social media with photographs of women claimed to be Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the first health minister of India.
[Complete message in Hindi: देश की आजादी के बाद यह भारत की पहली स्वास्थ्य मंत्री बनी थी, इतना ही नहीं उन्होंने अपनी 100 एकड़ पैतृक जमीन भी बेच दी और इस तरह एम्स का निर्माण हुआ, बाद में उन्होंने अपना मनाली और शिमला का आलीशान बंगला भी एम्स को दान कर दिया, ताकि एम्स में काम करने वाले डॉक्टर और नर्स छुट्टियां मनाने के लिए वहां रुक सकें, सरदारों का कर्ज कभी नही चुका सकता ये भारत]
Avantika Mehta, writer and creator of The Ladies Compartment, had tweeted on June 28 that it is her in the photograph. She wrote that the picture was taken five years ago for a photo shoot.
FOR THE LAST TIME I DONT LOOK LIKE AMRIT KAUR, she didn’t look like me. This picture is from a photoshoot I did for a friends website five years ago, and whoever put it out there did not fact check. pic.twitter.com/qQ3SLAXR7a
— Avantika Mehta (@bitingfriends) June 18, 2021
Alt News contacted Mehta and she informed that the photo shoot was for the website Pyjama People in 2016 where she dressed as Amrit Kaur. The shoot was part of a Republic Day homage to women who were a part of the independence movement. Mehta added that the Pyjama People website is not active anymore but the photos from the shoot are still publicly available on the website’s Instagram page.
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According to Mehta, the photograph may have been picked up and shared on social media after Brut India used it in one of its posts. The image was taken down from Brut as it was copy-righted. We spoke with photographer Karishma Bedi who confirmed that it was indeed taken for a photoshoot she did for Pyjama People. Several women had posed as iconic Indian revolutionaries, including Bedi herself.
Alt News got in touch with Siddhant Das, great grand nephew of Amrit Kaur, who informed that while the information shared with both photographs is correct, the woman is not Amrit Kaur. He told us that the second image shows Rani of Mandi. He shared with us photos of Amrit Kaur which have been attached below.
“Rajkumari Amrit Kaur is the daughter of Raja Sir Harnam Singh, younger Son of Raja Sir Randhir Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Kapurthala. Rani Amrit Kaur of Mandi is the daughter of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala,” said Das.
A photograph of Amrit Kaur has been juxtaposed with a publicly available image of Rani of Mandi to show the dissimilarities between them.
Das also said that the claim in the viral Hindi post that says Amrit Kaur had donated her estate ‘Manorville’ in Shimla on Summer Hill to AIIMS as a rest house for doctors, nurses etc is true to the best of his knowledge. More details about her life can be read here.
In sum, a photograph of writer Avantika Mehta and another picture of Rani Amrit Kaur Sahib of Mandi have been misidentified as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the first Indian health minister.