Sushmita Banerjee dead: Indian author gunned down in Afghanistan

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Video Discription: Originally published on September 7, 2013

Indian author Sushmita Banerjee, whose book was made into Bollywood film "Escape from Taliban" was shot dead in Afghanistan while she was there making a documentary about the women of Paktika, police said on Friday (September 6).

The Afghan Taliban has denied any involvement in her killing, although Banerjee has been targeted by the Islamist group before. Banerjee, 49, wrote about her life under the Taliban in her book, "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife", and has been an outspoken critic of the group.

Reuters reports Banerjee "was dragged from her house in lawless southeastern province of Paktika and shot as many as two dozen times, police said.

"Her body was found on Thursday (September 5) morning near an Islamic school about three km (two miles) from her home, Paktika police chief General Dawlat Khan Zadran said.

"'Gunmen entered her house at 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, took her out and shot her dead,' Zadran said, adding that he suspected Taliban involvement.

"Speaking to Reuters from Paktika police headquarters, Banerjee's husband, Jaanbaz Khan, said he had heard knocking on the back gate of their compound on Wednesday night.

"'I opened the gate and two gunmen with turbans wrapped around their faces burst in,' he said.

"'They beat me, blindfolded me, bound my hands and feet and locked me in a room. They took my wife away. I was released early the next morning when some family came to the house and discovered me.'

"Contrary to some media reports, Khan said his wife had not received any threats from Taliban since returning to Afghanistan this year.

"Banerjee, from Kolkata, moved to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying Khan, an Afghan businessman. She converted to Islam and changed her name to Sayed Kamala.

"She opened a dispensary providing medicine, but her life changed dramatically in 1993, when the Taliban emerged in southern Afghanistan after years of war.

"Branded a woman of poor morals, she was forced to close her dispensary and whipped for refusing to wear a burqa, she said in her book.

"She fled to Pakistan but was brought back by her husband's family and kept under house arrest. According to her book, she escaped in 1994 by tunneling a hole through the house's mud wall.

"She fled but was quickly detained near Kabul. Despite threats of execution, she convinced the Taliban to send her to the Indian embassy from where she was repatriated to India.

"Her story was made into a Bollywood film, "Escape from Taliban", in 2003.

"Banerjee was making a documentary about the lives of women in Paktika when she was killed, said the head of Afghanistan's National Journalists' Union, Faheem Dashty. And she was intending to write another book about Afghanistan, her Indian publisher, Swapan Biswas, told Reuters.

"The attack was the latest in a series of high-profile attacks on women, including the abduction of female MP Fariba Ahmadi Kakar last month and the shooting death of a prominent Afghan policewoman in the southern Taliban heartland city of Kandahar in July."


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