India mourns, condemns Sushmita’s killing in Paktika
KOLKATA (PAN): The literary circle in West Bengal state of India is mourning the killing of a Bengali writer, known in Afghanistan as Sahib Kamala, by suspected Taliban insurgents in southeastern Paktika province.
Gunmen entered Kamala’s house, known in India as Sushmita Banerjee, in the Sray Kala area on the outskirts of Sharan, the provincial capital, on Thursday, took her out and shot her, according local police.
Her books about her experiences in Afghanistan and a daring escape from the Taliban custody back in 1995 were bestsellers in West Bengal and had inspired Indian producers to make a film on the women’s situation in Afghanistan.
Bengali writers told Pajhwok Afghan News in Kolkata she was a brave woman and died for the cause of Afghanistan women.
"She was courageous and died of a martyr’s death," said a noted Bengali novelist Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, as he lauded her valiant decision to go back to Afghanistan from where she had once
Another woman writer of Bengal, Suchitra Bhattacharya, said the killing was tragic and shocking but her words would remain. "Bullet cannot stop the spirit of freedom," she remarked.
Sushmita Banerjee, whose apartment was found locked on Friday in a north Kolkata neighbourhood, was planning to pen a fifth book on her experience from this visit.
Her publisher Swapan Biswas in Kolkata said she was ready to offer a new book very soon. "I published four books of hers. They were all best sellers. Now she was planning to offer a fifth manuscript from her visit," Biswas said, recalling Banerjee as a brave and kind hearted woman.
After going to Afghanistan following her marriage with an Afghan businessman, Janbaz Khan, in Kolkata, she soon rebelled against the societal norms in her in-law's country and tried to organise women to protest the atrocities on them.
She invited the wrath of the Taliban and had to escape from Afghanistan in July 1995. Presently she was staying in Kolkata but had decided to visit Afghanistan for social work.
She had time and again told journalists in Kolkata that even in India she had received death threats.
A Bollywood film, Escape from Taliban, starring actress Manisha Koirala, was made in 2003 on her life.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said on Friday India will take up with Kabul the killing Sushmita Banerjee. "It is condemnable. The external affairs ministry is pursuing the matter and will take it up with the Afghanistan government," Shukla told the Rajya Sabha.
Trinamool Congress member Kunal Kumar Ghosh raised in the upper house the killing of 49-year-old Banerjee on Thursday and unanimously condemned by the house.
Communist Party of India's D. Raja said: "It is a brutal killing. Earlier, the Indian embassy in Afghanistan was attacked. The government should take notice of issues in (that) country."
Jaya Bachchan of the Samajwadi Party said the government had failed to react to the murder.
"I condemn the killing and the government must respond, especially the external affairs ministry," she said.
Banerjee’s memoir, "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife", recounted her life in Afghanistan with her husband Jaanbaz Khan and her escape from Taliban custody.
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