World War II spy first Indian-origin lady to get memorial plaque in London


London, August 28

Britain’s World War II spy, Noor Inayat Khan, on Friday grew to become the primary Indian-origin lady to be honoured with a memorial Blue Plaque at her former household residence in central London.

The Blue Plaque scheme, run by the English Heritage charity, honours notable folks and organisations related with specific buildings throughout London.

Khan’s plaque has gone up at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury, the place she lived earlier than she left for Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as an undercover radio operator for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Noor, the daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan and a descendant of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, went on to be killed at Dachau focus camp in 1944, having revealed nothing to her captors, not even her actual identify.

“When Noor Inayat Khan left this home on her final mission, she would by no means have dreamed that in the future she would develop into an emblem of bravery,” mentioned Shrabani Basu, historian and creator of ‘Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan’.

“She was an unlikely spy. As a Sufi she believed in non-violence and religious harmony. Yet when her adopted country needed her, she unhesitatingly gave her life in the fight against Fascism,” mentioned Basu, who formally unveiled the commemorative plaque in a small ceremony to be broadcast on social media, given the coronavirus social distancing necessities.

“It is fitting that Noor Inayat Khan is the first woman of Indian-origin to be remembered with a Blue Plaque. As people walk by, Noor’s story will continue to inspire future generations. In today’s world, her vision of unity and freedom is more important than ever,” added Basu, who can also be founder-chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust (NIKMT), which put in a sculpture of Noor in close by Gordon Square in 2012.

The SOE was an unbiased British Secret Service arrange by Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940 and Noor grew to become its first feminine radio operator despatched into Nazi-occupied France. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross (GC) for her bravery in 1949.

Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, mentioned: “We’re so happy to have the ability to proceed unveiling our 2020 blue plaques with this digital ceremony after a really quiet few months.

“I’m significantly delighted to begin with Noor Inayat Khan, whose braveness was unfaltering even within the face of such excessive hazard.”   The new plaque reads: “Noor Inayat Khan GC, 1914-1944, SOE Agent codename ‘Madeleine’ stayed here”.

Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar are amongst a few of the different Indian-origin historic figures to be honoured with related Blue Plaques at buildings related to their keep in London.

Noor joins the likes of Ada Lovelace, the pioneer of computing, and Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who helped uncover DNA, to make up solely 14 per cent of over 950 such Blue Plaques celebrating girls throughout London.

English Heritage mentioned that whereas the determine remains to be unacceptably low, its ongoing “Plaques for Women” marketing campaign has seen a dramatic rise within the variety of public nominations for ladies because it launched in 2016.

Later this yr, the charity plans to unveil plaques to Christine Granville, a exceptional undercover agent of the Second World War, and Barbara Hepworth, one of many 20th century’s best artists.

“Nominations are the lifeblood of the London blue plaques scheme and if we are to continue to see a significant increase in the number of blue plaques for women, we need more female suggestions,” the charity mentioned. PTI



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