Afghan militants kill Sushmita Banerjee, author whose life inspired Escape From Taliban

A film, Escape From Taliban, was based on her life and it starred Bollywood beauty Manisha Koirala

Sushmita Banerjee, an Indian woman author who wrote a popular memoir – A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife – about her escape from the Taliban has been shot dead in Afghanistan‘s Paktika province by suspected Taliban militants, police said Thursday. Married to Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan, Banerjee, 49, was killed outside her home in southeastern Paktika province. The book about her dramatic escape in 1995 became a bestseller in India and was made into a Bollywood film, Escape From Taliban, in 2003. Starring Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala, the film described itself as a “story of a woman who dares Taliban”.

Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband. According to BBC, she was known as Sayed Kamala.

She was well-known in India for her book, which recounted her life in Afghanistan with her husband and her escape.

According to a report in the Afghanistan Times, gunmen kidnapped the woman, Sahib Kamala, Wedneday night from the Sray Kala area on the outskirts of Sharan, the provincial capital of Paktika. She was found dead on Thursday morning, said Police chief Brig Gen Daulat Khan Zadran. He said an investigation into the incident had been opened, but the killers remained at large.

Women’s Affairs Director Bibi Hawa Khoshiwal said Kamala was a volunteer health worker, who had no connection with any group or the government. Strongly condemning the kidnap-murder incident, Khoshiwal urged security organs to ensure those responsible were brought to justice.

A resident of the village, declining to be identified, said Kamala was an Indian citizen. She had been living with her husband in the Sray Kala village after their marriage. Khan married Kamala after she converted to Islam, the resident said.

On a visit to India, Kalama had inspired Indian filmmakers to make a movie based on her stories ,which depicted the women’s situation in Afghanistan, he said. He said the stories evolved around Taliban’s injustices against the gender, saying India had made the film, showing characters in Sharan, Sray Kala and the family life of Kamala.

With no Taliban spokesman immediately available for comments, he said the outrageous insurgents killed Kamala hours after her abduction, the Afghanistan Times said.

Photo: Sushmita Banerjee – AFP/Getty Images