First Story Positive: The first-ever wheelchair-bound woman Basketball player from Kashmir
The wheels of Insha Bashir’s wheelchair turned into wings allowing her to soar to success on the international stage of basketbal-
Getting her hopes and dreams quashed by a life-threatening injury was not enough to deter this warrior from picking herself up and reaching new heights. Insha Bashir from Jammu and Kashmir had lofty dreams of becoming a doctor and loved to play cricket in her neighbourhood. But a life-threatening fall left her partially paralyzed, with her dreams forever dangling in front of her. But after a severe bout of depression, she managed to escape from the dark and fly into the light as the first woman basketball player from Jammu & Kashmir to represent India. Here is her inspiring story:
It was the cold winter of 2009. A Class 12 student was at her home after taking leave from school due to health issues. The student, Insha Bashir was suffering from oral bleeding and ulcers. She was enjoying the warmth of the sun, when suddenly she started to feel nauseous. She lost consciousness and fell hard on her back. Darkness enveloped the young girl, and when she woke up she was in the hospital, with no idea how she got there, and no one telling her what had happened.
Little did Insha know that her life was about to change forever. She was confined to a wheelchair but initially she did not think much of the injury, thinking that she will be fine after a few days. But alas, it was not to be. Insha spent the next 3 months under the care of doctors and nurses in the hospital. But she still did not know the horrible truth. The fall had left her paralysed from the waist down, and left her bedridden for 5 years.
But she still did not lose hope. Her family tried for treatment in Mumbai and Delhi in the hopes of a miracle but to no avail. So after a long battle Insha learned in 2012 that she would never walk again.
Insha dreamt of being a doctor and loved to play cricket in her school. But following this grim news, her world turned upside down, and she fell into deep depression. The next few years were difficult. She was confined to her room and didn’t talk to anyone, having no idea what to do next.
But the grim works of tragedy were not finished yet, as in 2015, Insha’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But this diagnosis was a wake-up call for Insha, who decided to push past her own woes and move ahead into success. She decided to go into rehab at the Voluntary Medicare Society of Bemina in Srinagar. There she learnt to do her chores and the time spent there allowed her to strengthen her mental resolve, and she slowly started to fall in love with life again. She was able to do things on her own again and following this, her inspiring journey began.
One day, Insha saw a group of specially-abled boys playing basketball at the rehab centre and decided to join them. She was the only girl among the boys. Playing with them ignited a spark in Insha and she decided to take further steps into basketball. She started playing at the district level, and then state and then kept climbing the ladder to glory. She represented India in the US and participated in the National Championship as captain of the J&K Wheelchair Basketball Women’s team in 2019. Insha was also part of the Indian team that participated in the Wheelchair International Basketball Tournament held in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, where her team won the silver medal.
The then Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju gifted her a wheelchair for her inspiring efforts and success. The wheels of that gift became the wings upon which she would fly. Not only this, she would also help inspire and motivate others in her valley to overcome their inhibitions and soar into the annals of sporting history. She did her B. Ed. from the Kashmir University and a Masters in Social Work from Delhi University. She currently works as a volunteer in the Voluntary Medicare in Srinagar. Her thirst for breaking new grounds remains unsatiated however, as she aims to become the first Kashmiri to win an Olympic medal. She dreams to represent India in the Paralympics.