News / Asia

India Shocked Over Killing of Author by Suspected Taliban Militants

In this file photo taken on March 6, 2003, Indian author Sushmita Banerjee holds one of her novels.
In this file photo taken on March 6, 2003, Indian author Sushmita Banerjee holds one of her novels.
Anjana Pasricha
India says the killing of an Indian author living in Afghanistan by suspected Taliban militants reinforces the need to work with the strife-torn nation to consolidate democracy and inclusion. The 49-year-old woman from Kolkata had escaped from the Taliban 15 years ago, and wrote a popular book on it, but returned recently to live in her husband’s country.  

As news that the bullet riddled body of Sushmita Banerjee had been found near her home in Paktika province in Afghanistan hit India, the publisher of her well known book Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife, expressed deep shock.

Swapan Biswas recalled his last meeting with the author in February when she had returned to Kolkata during one of her frequent visits to her hometown.

He said she told him she was working on another compelling book on life in Afghanistan based on what she was happening in the country.  
  
But Banerjee was never to write that book. 

Paktika’s police chief said she was abducted by masked men and her body dumped at a madrassah early Thursday.  A Taliban spokesman has denied responsibility for her death.

But many in India believe that the author was targeted by Taliban militants who had sentenced her to death 18 years ago for refusing to wear a burqa in public.  That happened during her seven-year stint in Afghanistan during the 1990s in the home of her husband, who was an Afghan businessman.
 
At that time, she fled back to Kolkata and wrote a book on her traumatic experience. It was later turned into a Bollywood film, Escape from Taliban. Her escape to India was not easy - she only made her way back to her hometown after two failed attempts.

Banerjee then spent many years in Kolkata. But she returned in January this year to live in her husband’s hometown with her in-laws.  She was well known in the area as a woman who had converted to Islam, and worked as a midwife in an area with poor health facilities.

In New Delhi, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said her killing was a tragedy and that India stands by Afghanistan.     

“We have one single point of view, a determination and our commitment to fight this kind of inhuman treatment, particularly of women and we stand solidly with Afghanistan to oppose this, confront it, and eliminate this kind of view," said Khurshid. "We do believe that the loss is for Afghanistan and India combined, it is not just our loss, it is theirs as well.”       

In an article for Outlook magazine published in 1998, Banerjee had chronicled life in Afghanistan after the Taliban crackdown in 1993. She described how the Taliban was aghast that she ran a small pharmacy and dubbed her a woman of poor morals. She said listening to the radio or tape recorder was banned and women could not step out of their homes unless accompanied by their husbands.

Publisher Biswas said he had asked Banerjee why she was returning to Afghanistan when it was going through a troubled phase. 

He said she told him she was going back to be in her husband’s home and also with her adopted daughter who lived there.

 Banerjee, 49, did not get much time to do either.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs