Afghan Militants Murder Author Sushmita Banerjee
An Indian author whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban became a Bollywood movie was shot dead by militants in Afghanistan, police said Thursday.
Sushmita Banerjee, also known as Sushmita Bandhopadhya, was killed outside her home in Paktika province, according to Dawlat Khan Zadran, the police chief of eastern Paktika province.
He said suspected Taliban insurgents broke into her house Wednesday night, blindfolded and tied up her husband, and fled with Banerjee.
Her body was found Thursday, dumped outside a madrasa, or religious school, in the outskirts of Sharana city, the provincial capital.
“She had around 20 bullet holes in her body,” Zadran said.
Banerjee gained attention with her 1995 book, “A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife.”
It recounts her story of marrying for love and moving to Afghanistan in 1989 to be with her husband. It traces her life in Afghanistan, her harassment by the Taliban and her eventual journey back to India.
She wrote an article for India’s Outlook magazine in 1998, about her life in Afghanistan, which she describes as tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993.
“I remember it was early that year that members of the Taliban came to our house,” she wrote in Outlook.
“They had heard of the dispensary I was running from my house. I am not a qualified doctor. But I knew a little about common ailments, and since there was no medical help in the vicinity, I thought I could support myself and keep myself busy by dispensing medicines. The members of the Taliban who called on us were aghast that I, a woman, could be running a business establishment. They ordered me to close down the dispensary and branded me a woman of poor morals.
“They also listed out do’s and don’ts. The burkha was a necessity. Listening to the radio or playing a tape recorder was banned. Women were not allowed to go to shops. They were even prohibited from stepping out from their houses unless accompanied by their husbands. All women had to have the names of their husbands tattooed on their left hand. Virtually all interaction between men and women outside the confines of their own homes was banned.”
In 2003, her book was made into a Bollywood film, “Escape from Taliban.” Bollywood movies are extremely popular in Afghanistan.
Banerjee, 49, had recently moved to Paktika province to live with her husband, Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan, police said.