The family of the incarcerated top separatist leader Shabir Shah has adopted Insha Mushtaq, the 14 year old girl blinded by the pellets, who has since emerged as the symbol of the current upsurge in Valley. This follows Shah's announcement last week that he will adopt Insha as "his third daughter". A statement issued to the press by the family said they went to Sedow, Shopian and adopted Insha. Shah's wife, two daughters, elder brother, sister and a few other family members were led by Moulana Abdullah Tari, the secretary general of Democratic Freedom Party, Shah's party.
Insha was hit by a volley of pellet gunfire in her face just two days into the ongoing unrest when she opened the window to look at the protest outside. Her face and eyes bled profusely. She was rushed to local district hospital where she was referred to SMHS, Valley's main hospital in Srinagar. It is here that the picture taken of her pellet-riddled disfigured face went viral, and brought to light for the first time the then horrific state of affairs prevailing in the state.
Insha was later rushed to AIIMS, New Delhi and from thereon to Mumbai. But after going through several rounds of surgeries, doctors declared her blind. She is back to her home now. Her tragic story and the pictures frequently make it to the front pages of the local dailies, forcing political parties across mainstream-separatist divide to take note of her. However, there are hundreds of the other victims of the pellet shot gun, either partially or completely blinded, who are also crying for the society’s attention. But because of their relative obscurity can’t get it.
The point is while Insha’s adoption is welcome what about the rest? Who will rehabilitate them? For a change, we must also blame ourselves for our rank indifference to the victims of human rights abuse. Set aside rehabilitation, we don’t even extend an emotional solidarity to them. The blinded and injured youth have been left to fend for themselves. It is cynical on our part to project the victims of gross human rights excesses as reference points for the uncounted sacrifices made by the people of state over the past 27 years and not do anything for them at a community level. Did anybody help these families to cope with their trauma and pain? Did anybody help them financially? These questions have answers that could embarrass us all – we the lovers of big fat and showy weddings with a penchant for the large, hulking houses that we don’t need.
What about the youth – most of them teenagers – who died through 2008-2010 uprisings? The mention of these youth may form a rhetorical part of the separatist discourse, nobody at the political or community level has gone back to ask their families their well-being. It is legitimate to complain about the denial of justice but it is criminal to fail in community obligations towards the people who lost their everything in the past two and a half decade of trouble.