Indian diarist, Sushmita Banerjee, 49, who wrote a memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban, was shot dead by militants outside her home in Paktika province. Banerjee’s 1995 book, Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife), was made into a Bollywood film called Escape From Taliban in 2003.
Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband, and was working as health care worker in the region. She had also been filming the lives of local women, reported the BBC.
According to the police, the Taliban militants tied up her husband and other family members in her house, took Banerjee out and shot her multiple times. They also ripped her hair out and dumped her body near a religious school.
The Taliban denied the attack on Banerjee, said the BBC.
Banerjee went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying an Afghan businessman Jaanbaaz Khan whom she met in Kolkatta, India. Her husband could not return to Afghanistan after a business trip to India, and Banerjee supported herself by running a dispensary from her home.
In an article for Outlook magazine she wrote that her “life was tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993.” She was branded “a woman of poor morals” by the Taliban who, she said, were “aghast that I, a woman, could be running a business establishment.” They ordered her to close down the dispensary.
She tried to escape in 1994, but her brother-in-laws tracked her down and took her back to Afghanistan, keeping her under house arrest.
The Taliban threatened to teach me a lesson. I knew I had to escape.
One night I tunneled my way through the mud walls of the house and fled. Close to Kabul I was arrested. A 15-member group of the Taliban interrogated me. Many of them said that since I had fled my husband’s home I should be executed. However, I was able to convince them that since I was an Indian I had every right to go back to my country.
The interrogation continued through the night. The next morning I was taken to the Indian embassy from where I was given a safe passage. Back in Calcutta I was reunited with my husband. I don’t think he will ever be able to go back to his family.