Indian Author Sushmita Banerjee killed by Taliban in Afghanistan

Noted Indian Author Sushmita Banerjee has been killed by Taliban Militants in Afghanistan today. Sushmita Banerjee was married to an Afghan Businessman Jaanbaz Khan and had recently moved there to live with him.

The 49 year old Author gained popularity with her book “Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou” dealing with her escape from Taliban which also inspired a Bollywood Movie starring Manisha Koirala.

Sushmita Banerjee Author Escape from Taliban

Sushmita Banerjee at a function in Kolkata in 2003

Sushmita was killed outside her home in Paktika province. Reports say that Taliban militants arrived at her home in the provincial capital of Kharana, tied up her husband and other members of the family, took Banerjee out and shot her, police were quoted as saying by BBC.

The militants dumped her body near a religious school, police said.

A senior police official said Banerjee, also known as Sayed Kamala, was working as a health worker in Paktika and had been filming the lives of local women as part of her work.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Banerjee’s book Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife), about her escape from the Taliban in 1995, became a bestseller in India and was made into the Bollywood film “Escape From Taliban” in 2003. The memoir focussed on her life in Afghanistan with her husband and her escape from the militants. Later she wrote two more books on the subject.

Her second book, Taliban, Afghan and I in Bangla, sold nearly half-a-million copies. The final volume, Ek Borno Mithya Noi (Not a Word is a Lie) released in 2001, was also a best-seller.

Sushmita had fled from Afghanistan in 1995 after living there for six years after Taliban issued a death sentence against her for refusing to convert to Islam.

In an interview with a magazine in 2002, Sushmita had said that she was persecuted for refusing to wear a burka. She also got into trouble for refusing to close her pharmacy. On one occasion, Taliban came to her home and attacked her.

“Two men stood on top of me and beat me mercilessly while the others pulled at my hair,” she said. “Other women of the house just watched as mute spectators.

“They were too scared. I don’t know what would have happened if a [local leader] had not intervened. He was fond of me for my work among the sick women. The Taliban, on that occasion, could not continue and fled.”

In another interview she talked about her second escape from death in the hands of Taliban. “The Taliban court gave its verdict. I was to be shot dead on the morning of July 22, 1995, on the charge of disorderly behaviour unbecoming of a woman… At 10.27 a.m., I was brought to the mehman-khana (guest room) where 15 Taliban soldiers, who were to be my executioners, were reading verses from the Koran.” said Sushmita.

“As the verses unfolded themselves in melodic incantation, one of the men looked up and asked: “Do you want us to convey your last message to your husband?” She claims that she managed to escape the jaws of death by snatching the loaded Kalashnikov from the wall, thus turning the tables on the soldiers who usually keep their firearms out in the courtyard”.