An Indian woman who wrote a bestselling memoir about the brutality of Sharia law and her escape from the Taliban was killed by unknown militants in Afghanistan.
Police in Paktika province have told the BBC that the militants arrived at the home of Sushmita Banerjee, 49, tied up members of the family including her husband, and then took Banerjee outside and shot her to death. Her body was then dumped near a religious school.
Banerjee was married to an Afghan businessman named Jaanbaz Khanand and moved to Afghanistan in 1989 to be with him. In an article in Outlook India, she described life in her village after the Taliban crackdown in 1993 began to give the fundamentalist Muslim group power to enforce its strict interpretation of Sharia law:
They also listed out dos and don’ts. The burkha was a necessity. Listening to the radio or playing a tape recorder was banned. Women were not allowed to go to shops. They were even prohibited from stepping out from their houses unless accompanied by their husbands. All women had to have the names of their husbands tattooed on their left hand. Virtually all interaction between men and women outside the confines of their own homes was banned.
Here I must mention the case of a woman who called in a priest to pray for her son who was seriously ill. Members of the Taliban saw the maulvi going into the house. The woman and the priest were executed in public. They were taken to the square alongside the local police station and shot. The entire village was terrorised by the incident.
She escaped in 1994, after tunneling out of her home and then being captured and interrogated by 15 members of the Taliban. Her 1995 book Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife) was a bestseller in India and was made into the Bollywood film titled “Escape From Taliban” in 2003.
Banerjee recently moved back to Afghanistan to be with her husband.
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