Sushmita Banerjee, 49, an Indian author living in Afghanistan, whose book about her escape from the Taliban was made into a 2003 movie, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen who are suspected to be militants, police said on Thursday.
Banerjee was killed outside her home in Paktika province, in the southeastern part of the country, where she was living with Jaanbaz Khan, her Afghan businessman husband, whom she married in 1989 after meeting him in India’s eastern state of Kolkata.
Police officials told CNN that Taliban militants broke into her house on Wednesday night and tied up her husband and other family members before taking her out and shooting her. Banerjee’s body was found near a religious school on the outskirts of Sharana, the provincial capital, on Thursday.
"She had around 20 bullet holes in her body," Dawlat Khan Zadran, the police chief of eastern Paktika province, told CNN.
No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the killing and the Taliban told BBC it did not carry out the attack on Banerjee.
Banerjee grabbed headlines in 1995 with her book "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife," which recounts her story of marrying her Afghan husband and moving to Afghanistan to be with him. It also talks about her dramatic escape from the region after the Taliban threatened her with dire consequences if she did not shutter a dispensary she was running to treat local women.
"I remember it was early that year that members of the Taliban came to our house," she wrote in an article in Outlook, an Indian magazine, in 1998. "They had heard of the dispensary I was running from my house. The members of the Taliban who called on us were aghast that I, a woman, could be running a business establishment. They ordered me to close down the dispensary and branded me a woman of poor morals,” she added.
Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband. According to Zadran, Banerjee could have been targeted for a number of reasons such as her book, the movie, her work in health care, or even the fact that she was an Indian woman, CNN reported.