The Taliban on Friday denied it was involved in the killing of an Indian woman in eastern Afghanistan, who wrote a popular memoir about her earlier escape from its clutches.
Sushmita Banerjee, 49, was married to an Afghan businessman and had written a memoir on a dramatic escape from the Taliban which inspired a Bollywood film in 2003.
“The lady with the Indian name Sushmita Banerjee living on the outskirts of Sharana city, was dragged out of her house by Taliban militants on Wednesday night and was shot dead,” Mokhles Afghan, spokesman for the Governor of Paktika province, said.
“She had been living in Paktika province for about 20 years and had converted to Islam after marrying an Afghan national, Janbaz Khan,” Mr. Afghan said, adding that her body was found in the provincial capital, Sharana.
He said her husband and children were not harmed.
The Indian Embassy in Kabul confirmed Mrs. Banerjee’s death.
The Taliban, however, denied any hand in Mrs. Banerjee’s killing. “We reject any claims regarding the Mujahideen’s (freedom fighters) involvement in the killing of the Indian lady,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told DPA.
“We even don’t know the culprits,” he said.
Mrs. Banerjee, who had converted to Islam and renamed herself as Sayeda Kamala, retained her Indian citizenship and was a health worker in Afghanistan.
Her book, ‘Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou’ (Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife) originally published in Bengali in 1998 and subsequently in English, has sold 700,000 copies according to the Kolkata-based publisher, Bhasha o Sahitya.
“She was a brave and courageous woman and has written two other memoirs based on her experiences in Afghanistan,” a spokesman for the publisher said.
“She has written things that are unpleasant for the Taliban in her book and by returning to Afghanistan, she put herself at risk ... it was a brave but not a wise decision,” Kolkata-based author Nabanita Dev Sen, who knew Mrs. Banerjee, said.