Pride of Kashmir: Meet Ishrat Akther,First Kashmiri International specially-abled Female basketball player

Meet Ishrat Akther,First Kashmiri International specially-abled Female basketball player
10 Aug 2020

On the night of August 25 2019, Ishrat was with her father Abdul Rashid Mir at her home in Bangdara in Baramula when she heard someone knocking at the door. Her father opened the door and saw a group of army jawans holding her daughter’s photo and asking for her. Rashid was quite afraid, especially because article 370 had been revoked and there was a lock down in place.

The Army personal, who was holding Ishrat’s photograph asked loudly – “Is she your daughter?”

A frightened Rashid stammered ‘Yes’.

The Army men looked at each other and laughed. Rashid was surprised.

” Aapki beti Indian wheelchair basketball team mein select ho gayi hai. Mubarak ho!. Aapko Chennai jana hai. (Congratulations! Your daughter has been selected in the Indian wheelchair basketball team. You have to go to Chennai) the army jawan told the surprised Rashid.

Fear turned into jubilation. An elated Rashid thanked the army men for what they had done for his daughter.

“When there was a knock on the door, my father, my family and I were frightened as there were lots of things that were going on in Kashmir. After I heard the news (of India selection), I hugged my father. I was so happy,” Ishrat told in an exclusive interview.

The men who had put all this in motion was Ishrat’s coach Louis George and his old friend Colonel (retired) Isenhower.

“Isenhower and I were classmates. On 25th August (20 days after article 370 was revoked), I just called him randomly for fun. We were talking normally as usual. I casually asked him and discussed about Kashmir. Then I also told him that one of my players (Ishrat) hasn’t come in from Kashmir and we are trying hard to reach her. He asked a couple of things about her. He asked for her photo and through his sources in Kashmir, he informed the Jammu and Kashmir police in Srinagar and then informed the Indian Army,”said Former NAvy Officer Louis George, who is also coach of the Indian women’s wheelchair basketball team.

Ishrat’s coach didn’t have her exact address. But Isehnower’s efforts saw a group of Army men start a search mission, as they found out that Ishrat lives in a small village called Bangdara in Baramulla from the Voluntary Medicare Society in Srinagar, where Ishrat was introduced to wheelchair basketball. They then went door to door in Bangdara to find Ishrat. Incredibly, the mission was completed on the same day (August 25), since Ishrat had to reach Chennai by August 27.

“Isenhower did an amazing job. Due to him, the Indian army escorted her (Ishrat) to the Srinagar airport and sent her to Chennai. Isenhower did all the arrangements (tickets etc) for her,” the coach said.

Ishrat represented India in the Asia-Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championship from November 27 to December 8, held in Thailand .