Indian female health worker killed in Paktika
SHARANA (PAN): The Taliban allegedly killed an Indian health worker and writer, who wrote a popular memoir about her escape from the Taliban, in southeastern Paktika province, police said on Thursday.
Gunmen kidnapped the woman, Sushmita Banerjee also known as Sahib Kamala, last night from the Sray Kala area on the outskirts of Sharan, the provincial capital. 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 confirmed the incident, saying Kamala was a diarist, who had no connection with any group.
Strongly condemning the kidnap-murder incident, she 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, who had been living with her husband in the Sray Kala village after their marriage. Jan Baz, a businessman, married Kamala after she converted to Islam, the resident said.
The book about her dramatic escape in 1995 became a best-seller in India and was made into a Bollywood film in 2003. She had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband and was working as a health worker and filming the lives of local women as part of her work.
Residents said Taliban enteredher home in Sharan, took her out and shot her. They dumped her body near a religious school.
The 49-year-old 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".
In her article published in 1998, Banerjee wrote she went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying 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," 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."
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