Indian diarist Sushmita Banerjee shot dead in Afghanistan
- 5 September 2013
- From the section India
An Indian woman, who wrote a popular memoir about her escape from the Taliban, has been shot dead in Afghanistan by suspected militants, police say.
Sushmita Banerjee, who was married to an Afghan businessman, was killed outside her home in Paktika province.
The book about her dramatic escape in 1995 became a best-seller in India and was made into a Bollywood film in 2003.
Ms Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband.
A senior police official told the BBC's Jafar Haand that Ms Banerjee, who was also known as Sayed Kamala, was working as a health worker in the province and had been filming the lives of local women as part of her work.
Police said Taliban militants arrived at her home in the provincial capital, Kharana, tied up her husband and other members of the family, took Ms Banerjee out and shot her. They dumped her body near a religious school, police added.
The Taliban have told the BBC they did not carry out the attack on Ms Banerjee.
Ms Banerjee, 49, became well-known in India for her memoir, A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife, which recounted her life in Afghanistan with her husband Jaanbaz Khan and her escape.
She was the subject of the 2003 Bollywood film, Escape From Taliban.
Starring actress Manisha Koirala, the film described itself as a "story of a woman who dares [the] Taliban".
Ms Banerjee also told her story in an article she wrote for Outlook magazine in 1998. She went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying Mr Khan, whom she met in Calcutta.
She wrote that "life was tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993" when the militants ordered her to close a dispensary she was running from her house and "branded me a woman of poor morals".
She wrote that she escaped "sometime in early 1994", but her brothers-in-law tracked her down in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where she had arrived to seek assistance from the Indian embassy. They took her back to Afghanistan.
"They promised to send me back to India. But they did not keep their promise. Instead, they kept me under house arrest and branded me an immoral woman. The Taliban threatened to teach me a lesson. I knew I had to escape," she wrote.
It was shortly after that, she wrote, that she tried to escape from her husband's home, three hours from the capital, Kabul.
"One night, I made a tunnel 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," Ms Banerjee wrote.
"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 re-united with my husband. I don't think he will ever be able to go back to his family."