India

Two held over killing of Indian diarist Sushmita Banerjee

  • 9 September 2013
  • From the section India
A protest rally following the murder of Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee
Image caption Rallies were held in India in Ms Banerjee's memory following the killing

Two people have been held over the killing in Afghanistan of an Indian woman who wrote a memoir about her escape from the Taliban, officials say.

Sushmita Banerjee was shot dead by suspected militants last Thursday.

The police chief of Paktika province told the BBC that the suspects were member of the notorious Haqqani militant network.

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, an Afghan businessman, in Paktika province.

The men were arrested on base of intelligence information, and were found in possession of two Kalashnikovs, a motorbike and explosives, provincial police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran told the BBC's Jafar Haand.

The men are both Afghan and from the village where Ms Banerjee lived, Mr Zadran said. They have both confessed to involvement in the killing, he added.

The men are also accused of planting mines to target the investigation team that went to the area to probe the killing.

A senior police official told the BBC last week 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 had initially blamed her killing on Taliban militants, but the Taliban denied carrying out the attack.

Daring escape

Ms Banerjee, 49, went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying Jaanbaz Khan, whom she met in Calcutta.

She became well-known in India for her memoir, A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife, which recounted her life in Afghanistan with her husband and her escape from the country after the Taliban takeover.

She was also the subject of a 2003 Bollywood film, Escape From Taliban.

Ms Banerjee also told her story in an article she wrote for Outlook magazine in 1998.

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".

After a failed escape via Pakistan in 1994, she made another attempt to flee shortly afterwards.

"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.

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