As the news of Insha’s success spread like wildfire on the evening of 9th June, netizens took to various social media platforms to shower her with congratulations. Photos of Insha flooded the internet, accompanied by captions commending her strength and resilience, making her an icon and source of inspiration for people from all walks of life.
Blinded by pallets, Insha Mushtaq, a young girl from Shopian, has defied all odds and cleared her 12th-class exams. Her remarkable achievement has ignited hope and serves as an inspiration to many, as she aspires to serve as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer in the future.
Braille was totally alien to me and I would come home weeping, but my teachers encouraged me and helped me learn.Insha Mushtaq
Her journey began during the turbulent times in Kashmir in 2016. At the age of nine, she found herself caught in the crossfire of protests following the killing of a Hizbul-Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani. As she peered out of her window, a hail of metal pellets fired by security forces took away her eyesight, fractured her skull, and left scars on her face.
As Insha opened her eyes in the hospital, she found herself surrounded by darkness. The world had vanished before her sightless eyes, leaving her with profound emptiness. The absence of light had extinguished the sparkle in her eyes, replaced by a searing discomfort that radiated within. It was at that moment Insha truly understood the depths of her visual loss, as she grappled with the overwhelming sensation of darkness enveloping her being.
Her photographs even became a symbol of the suffering endured by countless victims of pellet injuries during that period. The international community condemned the use of pellets, considered “non-lethal,” in Kashmir, raising concerns about human rights.
Following the incident, Insha spent months undergoing treatment in various hospitals and trauma centres. Despite the physical and emotional challenges she faced, her determination remained unwavering.
“I continued my education at the same local school in Shopian after the 2016 incident,” Insha said to FII. “Despite what happened, I was determined to resume my studies, and a few months after my treatment, I returned to school. I completed my 12th standard at the same school,” she adds.
Learning the Braille language system was a unique and demanding endeavour for me, given that I didn’t lose my sight at birth. However, with unwavering determination and consistent effort, I triumphed over the obstacles and wholeheartedly embraced the world of Braille.Insha Mushtaq
Eager to continue her education, she learned braille, computers, and English at Delhi Public School (DPS). Initially, braille was unfamiliar to her, and she often found herself in tears. However, with the encouragement and support of her teachers, she persevered and acquired new skills.
Insha spoke to FII about the initial difficulties she faced in learning braille, “Braille was totally alien to me and I would come home weeping, but my teachers encouraged me and helped me learn.”
“I didn’t lose my sight at birth, so learning the Braille language system wasn’t easy for me,” Insha explains. “But with sheer hard work, I managed to grasp it.”
“Learning the Braille language system was a unique and demanding endeavour for me, given that I didn’t lose my sight at birth. However, with unwavering determination and consistent effort, I triumphed over the obstacles and wholeheartedly embraced the world of Braille,” she adds.
In 2017, with the assistance of a writer, she appeared for her Class 10 board examinations and successfully cleared them. In her pursuit of education, she studied sociology, education, history, physical education, and English in Class 12, where she achieved an impressive 367 out of 500 marks.
Her determination and achievements illuminate our whole community with a brilliance that transcends any darkness. Her unwavering resolve to pursue education and excel in the face of adversity is a testament to her indomitable spirit. She has shattered societal expectations and proven that no obstacle is insurmountable. Her remarkable academic success is a beacon of inspiration, reminding us all that within each individual lies limitless potential waiting to be unleashed.Tabia Sultan, Insha’s classmate
“Her determination and achievements illuminate our whole community with a brilliance that transcends any darkness. Her unwavering resolve to pursue education and excel in the face of adversity is a testament to her indomitable spirit. She has shattered societal expectations and proven that no obstacle is insurmountable. Her remarkable academic success is a beacon of inspiration, reminding us all that within each individual lies limitless potential waiting to be unleashed,” says Tabia Sultan, her classmate, to FII.
Reflecting on her results, Insha said, “I initially shed tears when the results were announced, feeling disappointed that I could have done better“. “But then, my parents lovingly reminded me that I had outperformed many students who have the gift of sight. Their words filled me with pride and a renewed sense of accomplishment. It made me realise that my journey is not defined by my visual impairment, but by the determination and resilience that reside within me. I hope my success serves as a reminder to everyone that with unwavering determination, we can overcome any challenge and achieve greatness,” she adds.
Throughout her journey, Insha found strength and support from her family, who constantly reminded her never to lose hope and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. She expressed her gratitude, saying, “They tell me never to lose hope and that ‘I have to do it’. And I did it. I faced a lot of challenges and problems which I faced and moved on“.
In preparation for her Class 12 exams, Insha utilised braille and recorded lectures to aid her revision. The Jammu and Kashmir Centre for Peace and Justice, a non-governmental organisation, played a crucial role in her educational journey. Insha expressed her gratitude, specifically mentioning, “They rehabilitated me and supported me, especially Nadir Ali. They would help me with the studies.“
Despite moments of hopelessness and uncertainty, a meeting with a blind IAS officer inspired Insha, giving her the confidence to pursue her dream of becoming an IAS officer. Speaking about her future aspirations, she confidently shared, “I will be doing Bachelors and then go for IAS coaching.”
Speaking about Insha’s achievements, her neighbour Shabnam Akthar said to FII, “Her achievements remind us that disability is never a barrier to success.” Shabnam emphasised the impact of Insha’s academic success, stating, “Her story is a beacon of hope for all those facing challenges in life.“
“She has shattered societal expectations and overcome immense challenges, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those around her,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, Insha’s father, to FII.
He said that her academic success is a shining example of the power of education and the limitless potential within each individual. She has proven that no obstacle is insurmountable. Her unwavering spirit and determination serve as an inspiration for everyone facing adversity.
Insha herself acknowledged the challenges she has faced since 2016, saying, “I have been confronting numerous challenges since 2016, but I have relentlessly strived to conquer them in order to live a successful life.”
“There is an urgent need for educational institutions that will specifically impart education to all visually challenged people who aspire to pursue their educational dreams,” she said. “All they need is some support to meet their needs, and they, too, can excel and overcome their darkness.“
Insha wants to excel in her studies and make her parents and family proud. She wants other pellet victims like her not to give up and not let the loss of vision prevent them from achieving whatever they want to in life. Her positive outlook on life and determination serve as an inspiration for everyone facing adversity. “There is a world that is full of darkness where I live, but that is not deterring me from reaching my goals,” says Insha.
There is a world that is full of darkness where I live, but that is not deterring me from reaching my goals.Insha Mushtaq
“I faced challenges along the way,” she admits, “but my determination never wavered. I persevered through the difficulties and achieved my goals. If a person has courage and commitment, nothing is impossible, and no challenge can become an impediment,” she adss.
“Insha’s achievements remind us that disability is never a barrier to success. Her story is a beacon of hope for all those facing challenges in life,” says Shabnam, her neighbour. Her remarkable success will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of individuals, encouraging them to chase their dreams and create a society that embraces diversity and empowers every individual, regardless of their abilities.
Her father, Mushtaq Ahmad, couldn’t contain his pride as he witnessed his daughter’s incredible journey, defying all odds despite the life-altering injuries she endured. With a smile illuminating his face, he warmly greeted the guests and relatives who gathered to share in their happiness. “It’s impossible to put into words just how proud I am of her,” Mushtaq Ahmad expresses, his voice tinged with a mixture of awe and admiration. “Ever since she lost her vision in 2016 due to pellets, our family has rallied around her, providing unwavering support. Insha herself displayed an unwavering determination to continue her education,” he adds.