India in touch with Kabul over author's murder

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) India is in touch with Afghanistan over the killing of Indian author Sushmita Banerjee by suspected Taliban militants, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Friday.

"We are already in touch and contact," Khurshid told the media outside parliament. He termed the Thursday murder "very, very distressing", adding it came "as a deep shock".

Banerjee, 49, was dragged out of her house and shot dead in Sharan city in Paktika province Wednesday night. Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her Afghan businessman husband.

Her memoir, "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife", was on her life in Afghanistan and her escape from Taliban custody. It was turned into a movie.

Khurshid said India and Afghanistan have "one single point of view" on women's issues and were committed "to fight this kind of inhuman treatment, particularly of women".

"We stand solemnly with Afghanistan in their determination to oppose this, to confront it and to eliminate this kind of view.

"We do believe that the loss is for Afghanistan and for India combined, it is not just our loss alone, it's their loss as well."

Earlier, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told the Rajya Sabha: "It (the killing) is condemnable... (We) will take it up with the Afghanistan government."

The killing was raised in the house by Trinamool Congress member Kunal Kumar Ghosh. The Rajya Sabha unanimously condemned the killing.

Communist Party of India's D. Raja said: "It is a brutal killing. Earlier, the Indian embassy in Afghanistan was attacked. The government should take notice of issues in (that) country."

Jaya Bachchan of the Samajwadi Party said the government had failed to react to the murder.

"I condemn the killing and the government must respond, especially the external affairs ministry," she said.

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