Sushmita Banerjee, Author of "Escape from Taliban" Murdered in Afghanistan
A woman who wrote about her life under Taliban rule was murdered after returning to Afghanistan.
Sushmita Banerjee, who authored the book "Escape from Taliban" was taken from her home in the southeastern province of Paktika. According to her husband, Jaanbaz Khan, the attackers knocked on the back gate of their compound. He says that as soon as he opened the door, "two gunmen with turbans wrapped around their faces burst in."
"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," he said.
According to police, the attack took place on Wednesday night. "Gunmen entered her house at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, took her out and shot her dead," Paktika police chief General Dawlat Khan Zadran said. Her body was found near a school about two miles from her home. According to police, Banerjee was shot as many as two dozen times, and the Taliban is suspected in her murder. A Taliban spokesman denied the allegation.
Banerjee, originally from India, had converted to Islam, changed her name to Sayed Kamala, and moved to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying her husband. When the Taliban showed up in 1993, Banerjee's life changed: She was labeled a woman with poor morals. Because of her refusal to wear a burqa, she was forced to close her store and whipped.
Banerjee attempted to flee several times. The first time she headed to Pakistan she was brought back by her husband's family, and put on house arrest. After that, she tunneled out of the family home but was detained. Facing execution, Banerjee convinced the Taliban to send her back to India.
Banerjee returned to Afghanistan this year. Her husband says that despite rumors to the contrary, she hadn't received threats from the Taliban since she reentered the country. She was working on a documentary about the lives of women in Paktika at the time of her death.