Kolkata, Sept 6 IBNS | 12 months ago

The literary circle in West Bengal mourned the killing of Bengali writer Sushmita Banerjee by alleged Taliban men in Afghanistan in the southeastern Paktika province on Thursday.


The Taliban allegedly killed the Bengali writer, whose books on her experiences in Afghanistan after marrying an Afghan man in Kolkata in 1989 and a daring escape from there back in 1995 were best sellers in West Bengal and had inspired a Bollywood film.

Banerjee was kidnapped by the militants from the Sray Kala area on the outskirts of Sharan, the provincial capital. She was found dead on Thursday morning.

Bengali writers from Kolkata said she was a brave woman and died for the cause of Afghanistan women.

"She was courageous and this death is like the death of a martyr," said noted Bengali novelist Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, as he lauded her valiant decision to go back to Afghanistan from where she had once escaped.

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 said.

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 for him 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.

Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said in Rajya Sabha: "It is condemnable. The external affairs ministry is pursuing the matter and will take it up with the Afghanistan government."

After going to Afghanistan following her marriage with an Afghan man in Kolkata, she soon rebelled against the societal norms in her in-law's country and tried to organize women to protest the atrocities on them.

She invited the wrath of the Taliban and had to escape from Afganistan in July 1995.

Presently she was staying in Kolkata but had decided to visit Afghanistan for social work.

She time and again told journalists in Kolkata that even in India she received death threats.

A Bollywood film, Escape from Taliban, starring actress Manisha Koirala, was made in 2003 on her life.

(Posted on 06-09-2013)