Insha Mushtaq stands for all Kashmiri children blinded & disabled by pellet guns

There have been several reports about this Kashmiri girl named Insha Mushtaq who was 15-years-old when she was blinded & disfigured by pellet munitions in July 2016 while in her family home. She represents the 1,562 mostly children & youth who were partially or fully blinded by pellet guns just in the last 6 months of 2016. Another 7,330 were injured by pellet guns &, though not blinded, suffered disfigurement & permanent disability, pain, & health problems because the pellets cannot all be removed from vital organs.

We know Insha’s story because Kashmiri media, Al Jazeera, & a documentary video reported on the many surgeries she endured to extract pellets & repair tissue. They also reported about the emotional turmoil Insha & her family went through in accepting her disability, learning how to deal with it, & helping her build a fruitful life. She was a girl who loved to read & that would surely become much harder. That Insha lives in a society dealing with thousands of young people blinded & disabled by occupying forces does not make those adjustments less traumatizing for any of those affected.

There is no inspirational silver-lining in disability. Being disabled makes things harder. But the disability rights movement has hammered home the understanding that disability does not render a person useless, immobile, inferior, nor is it a death sentence. It requires emotional transitions, major adjustments, physical accommodations & learning new ways of doing things. No one not disabled would be so cavalier as to dismiss how hard it it, especially for young people, to come to terms with the grief & loss of disability. That’s why disability rights have been so important in forging respect which does not include pity but also demands social services necessary for a good life.

Blinding & disabling Kashmiri young people is not accidental but an intentional military stratagem to exact maximum suffering & demoralize resistance to occupation. But we know the leading part played in social struggle by those with disability, including the Kashmiri struggle, the Arab Spring uprisings, the anti-austerity protests in Europe, the Palestinian struggle (where Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was a prominent activist despite the loss of both legs in an Israeli airstrike until an Israeli sniper fatally shot him), & the US fight against austerity cutbacks. They have been on the front lines, not sitting out the struggles for a better world.