JAMMU & KASHMIR: Insha Bashir (27) suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident 13 years ago. The wheelchair-bound girl from Kashmir, however, has not lost the zeal to make a mark in life. She is the first wheelchair basketball player from Jammu & Kashmir.
“It was in 2009, when I was a Class XII student. I had some health problems. I met with an accident at my home. My spinal cord was badly injured and I was totally bedridden, becoming completely dependent on others,” said Insha, from Beerwah village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
She said her parents, siblings and relatives took care of her. A few years later, her father suffered medical complications. “My father’s illness broke me and I was having suicidal thoughts because I did not want to become a burden on others. However, my father and family members counselled me. They told me not to give up. I kept myself busy with books,” she said. She remained bedridden for almost six years.
Insha is an arts graduate from Government Degree College, Beerwah, Budgam. After completing her B Ed from the University of Kashmir, she is currently pursuing Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Delhi University.
“Once I went to a doctor, who asked me what I wanted to become. ‘Doctor’, I said. He told me that I was capable of becoming more than a doctor,” recalls Insha. “He told me to think seriously about how I could take charge of myself. He emphasised how through my efforts, my father’s condition too could improve,” Insha said. That pep talk became an inspiration: she needed to move beyond her room and the house to realise the dream.
“In 2017, I went to the rehab centre called Voluntary Medicare Society (Bemina) in Srinagar for physiotherapy. I learnt how to use the wheelchair independently. My life changed for good,” Insha said.
She saw how physically disabled boys played wheelchair basketball at the rehab centre. “I asked myself if they could play in that condition, why couldn’t I? Soon I developed interest in the game.”
There were not many persons around to help her. “Some players from the boys’ team helped me with the sport. I began training with them. I was the only girl among the 18 boys who were playing wheelchair basketball,” Insha said.
Braving all odds, her pain and the lack of sports facilities, Insha from 2017 onwards has been playing wheelchair basketball — starting from the district, then state and finally at the national and international levels. She became the first woman wheelchair basketball player from J&K to represent the country.
She played in the national wheelchair basketball championship in 2017 in Hyderabad and represented Delhi in Tamil Nadu in 2018. She also captained the first-ever J&K team in the national championship in 2019. Her team reached the quarter finals. Insha represented India in the US in March 2019. “It was a proud moment for me as I represented the country. My family was equally proud.”
She is currently captain of the J&K wheelchair basketball and national women team. Insha has inspired many physically disabled girls in J&K to come forward and play to excel in life. Her story is a ray of hope to those who have accepted their disability as their destiny. She is now training other wheelchair-bound girls at VMS Bemina and works as a counsellor. The strong willed Insha wants to represent the country in the Paralympics.