The tales of trials and tribulations, perseverance, hardwork and eventual success of people from marginalised communities gain a lot of traction on social media platforms, especially if it relates to the lives of civil servants. A social media post claiming to share an excerpt from the interaction of one ‘Rani Soyamoi’, who is being identified as the district collector of Malappuram, with college students is going viral. The post claims that Soyamoi narrates her life story as a response to a question that “Why don’t you use any makeup on your face?”
According to the viral post, narrating her ordeal as a child, Soyamoi says that she worked at Mica mines in Jharkhand along with her family members when she was young. “One day when I was not going to work due to high fever, it suddenly rained. Hundreds of people died when the mine collapsed…. Among them were my father, mother and sister,” she adds before sharing more details of hardships she faced as a child.
Soyamoi says that the mica she “collected while crawling through the darkness” is now used in making make-up products. She concludes by saying, “Now you tell me. How do I apply makeup on my face?”.
Several social media users are sharing the post believing it to be a true story of ‘IAS Rani Soyamoi.’
Newschecker also received the same post on our WhatsApp tipline (+91 9999499044) requesting it to be fact checked.
Child Labour At Mica Mines In Jharkhand
According to an article by IBEF, Jharkhand is one of the richest mineral zones in the world and boasts of 40% of India’s mineral reserves, including coal, iron uranium, mica, bauxite, granite, limestone, among others. Mining and mineral extraction is one of the key industries in the state.
Mica mining, which is dominant in Koderma and Giridih districts of Jharkhand, is known for employing children as labour in the mines. According to a report titled, ’Survey on Education & Wellbeing of Children in MICA Mining Areas of Jharkhand & Bihar’ by the NCPRC, “there are 4,545 children in the age group of 6 to 14 years in the area of Jharkhand reported as not attending school.” It listed “cases of collecting mica scraps” as one of the reasons behind children’s absence from the schools.
According to a 2018 study by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, during the first round of data collection, research and economic mapping in 2006, over 5,000 children in Bihar and Jharkhand were working in mines in 2006. In 2017, there were found to be approx. 30,000 children.
To begin with, Newschecker started by looking up the current district collector of Malappuram. According to the official website, V. R. Premkumar is the current district collector of Malappuram.
Furthermore, we then checked the ‘CIVIL LIST OF INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE OFFICERS (KERALA CADRE)’ and looked for the name ‘Rani Soyamoi.’ However, we did not find any IAS officer by such name in Kerala.
To ascertain the identity of the woman in the viral post, we conducted a Google reverse search of the image. Newschecker found the viral image on the thumbnail of a video uploaded by Manorama News on its official YouTube channel, dated November 2, 2016, titled ‘Malappuram Collectorate blast; special investigation team will inquire.’ However, we could find the image in the video.
Taking a cue from here, we conducted a Google keyword search for ‘Malappuram Collectorate blast’, ‘Special team to inquire about Malappuram Collectorate blast,’ and came across a report by Onmanorama.com, dated November 2, 2016, titled ‘Malappuram collectorate blast: ‘pressure cooker bomb’ likely used, Laden’s photo found.’ The report carried the image of the woman seen in the viral post, and identified her as district collector of Malappuram ‘A. Shainamol.’
On further looking up keywords ‘Malappuram district collector A. Shainamol on Malappuram Collectorate blast,’ ‘District collector of Malappuram on Collectorate blast’ , we found a video uploaded by MediaoneTV from 2016, that showed the woman seen in the viral picture addressing the media regarding the case.
Newschecker further found that the viral image is actually a screengrab from the same video, taken at 00:34 seconds, proving that the woman in the picture is Shainamol and not Rani Soyamoi.
We continued our investigation by looking up more details about Shainamol. Newschecker did a keyword search for ‘A. Shainamol family’ on Google and found an article by the Indian Express, dated April 17, 2016. According to the report, Shainamol’s elder sister A Shaila is the Mumbai District Collector and her elder brother A Akbar is an SP in Kerala Police’s Crime Branch. Her father S Abu is a retired school teacher “who holds the family together along with his wife Sulekha,” added the report.
According to a report by Mathrubhumi, Shainamol is a native of Aluva. A 2007-batch IAS, she is currently serving as the Divisional Commissioner of the Mandi Division in Himachal Pradesh.
Shainamol was in news in 2021 after a Supreme Court ruling that ‘successful UPSC candidates have no right to be allocated cadres of their choice.’ According a report by the Hindustan Times, dated October 22, 2021, the Supreme Court’s “observation came after the Central government challenged a verdict of the Kerala high court which had asked it to grant home cadre Kerala to A Shainamol, a Muslim woman IAS officer who was posted in Himachal Pradesh.”
Newschecker has found out that there is no IAS officer by the name ‘Rani Soyamoi’ in the Kerala Cadre. The viral post carries the image of A Shainamol, a 2007-batch IAS officer, who is a native of Kerala. Hence, the viral claim is fabricated.
Result: Fabricated News/False
Official website of Malappuram district: https://malappuram.nic.in/en/about-district/whos-who/
YouTube Channel of Manorama News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCxK_sFUc-I
YouTube Channel of MediaoneTV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgQXDyP3zmk
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