Sushmita Banerjee dead: Indian writer who escaped Taliban shot dead in Afghanistan

Militants arrived at author's home before taking her outside, tying her up and 'riddling her with bullets'

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The Independent Online

An Indian writer whose true life memoir about escaping from the Taliban was turned into a Bollywood movie, has been shot dead by militants in the east of Afghanistan.

The authorities said militants arrived at the home of Sushmita Banerjee in Paktika province early this morning and tied up her husband before taking her outside and riddling her with bullets. Police said she had suffered at least 20 bullet wounds.

“We found her bullet-riddled body near a madrassa on the outskirts of Sharan city (the provincial capital) this morning,” local police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran told the AFP. “Our investigation indicates that the militants had grievances against her for something she had written or told in the past, which was then turned into a film.”

Ms Banerjee, 49, who was married to Afghan businessman, Jaanbaz Khan, wrote about her life in Afghanistan and how she had fled from the Taliban’s oppressive rule. Having moved to Afghanistan in 1989 after meeting and marrying her husband in Kolkata, she found life was tolerable until a 1993 crackdown. She refused to convert to Islam, something that angered the Taliban.

She made her way to Pakistan in 1994 while her husband was out of the country but was tracked down by relatives who took her to the Taliban. She tried to escape again, only to be recaptured, but somehow persuaded the Taliban to let her go. She was reunited with her husband in Kolkata.

Ms Banerjee wrote about her experiences in a book, The Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife. It was made into a 2003 Bollywood film, Escape from the Taliban, starring Manisha Koirala and Nawab Shah.

The Indian media reported that Ms Banerjee, who was known in Afghanistan as Sahib Kamal, had recently returned to Afghanistan to live with her husband and to run a clinic. She had been filming the lives of local women as part of her work.