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Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee shot dead by militants in Afghanistan

Kabul, Sep 6 (): Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee, who wrote the best-selling book about her dramatic escape from the Taliban in 1995, was shot dead by suspected Taliban men outside her home in Paktika province of Afghanistan, police said on Thursday.

The 49-year-old, hailing from Kolkata, wrote the book “Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife)”, which was made into a Bollywood film in 2003. Banerjee also has written about her experiences in Afghanistan for ‘Outlook’ magazine.

Banerjee was married to Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan in 1989 and had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with him. The couple lived in a village on the edge of Sharana, the capital of Paktika. She was working as a health worker in the province while filming the lives of local women as part of her work.

Bannerjee was killed outside her home in Paktika province. While her husband and other members of the family were tied up, Ms Banerjee was dragged out of her house in Kharana town and gunned down at close range on Wednesday. Next morning, her bullet-stitched body was found near a religious place.

Experts said the cold-blooded execution was the usual imprint of Taliban. But, no group has claimed the attack as yet.

Her brother-in-law and civil society activists, Zaher Khan, said she was locally called Sahib Kamala, and was well-known both for her conversion to Islam, for a book she had penned about her life and also for her work as a midwife.

Banerjee made several attempts to escape Afghanistan and in 1994 she made it to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, but her husband’s family tracked her down and took her back to Afghanistan.

Award-winning Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi said Banerjee’s death “is a loss to Bengali literature. Her life was threatened in Afghanistan. She should not have risked her life”.