The 49-year-old was dragged out of her husband's house by masked gunmen in Afghanistan's eastern Paktika province late on Wednesday and repeatedly shot. Police suggested her book, an account of her escape from the Taliban two decades ago that was later turned into a hit film, may have been the reason she was killed.
"Our investigation... indicates that the militants had grievances against her for something she had written or said in the past," provincial police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran told AFP. But today a Taliban spokesman denied any involvement. "We reject claims that mujahideen were involved in the killing of the Indian woman. It is a propaganda by government officials to defame the mujahideen," Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP.
The militant group, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the Western-backed Kabul government since 2001, is often reluctant to claim the killings of women.
Banerjee was married to local businessman Jaanbaz Khan and had recently moved back to live with him in Paktika, reportedly to run a health clinic for women there. Her book "Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife" was made into a Bollywood film in 2003. Sanjana Roy Choudhury, a publisher from Hay House India, told AFP that Banerjee was courageous.
"In trying to live a life with her husband there, this is the price she paid. It's a brave voice that's been quietened." Bengali writer Samaresh Majumdar said she had risked her life by returning to Afghanistan. "It was akin to committing suicide."