Britain honours Noor Inayat Khan, Indian war heroine
Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times
London, November 08, 2012
First Published: 17:07 IST(8/11/2012)
Last Updated: 02:24 IST(9/11/2012)
A bust of Noor Inayat Khan, the British secret agent of Indian origin who was executed by the Nazis, is to be unveiled on Thursday in a quiet public garden in central London by Princess Anne.
Britain's Princess Anne looks at a sculpture of India's Noor Inayat Khan after an unveiling ceremony in central London. Britain's Princess Anne unveiled a sculpture Thursday of Noor Inayat Khan, dubbed the "spy princess", who was sent into occupied France in World War II to help the resistance. AFP photo
Over 400 distinguished guests are expected to fill leafy Gordon Square to pay tribute to the
World War II heroine, who was shot in Germany's Dachau concentration camp in 1944 at the age of 30. The guests will include MPs, peers, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, war veterans, former agents who served alongside Noor as members of the top secret Special Operations Executive (SOE) and even the RAF pilots who flew them on their deadly missions.
A bust of Noor Inayat Khan, the British secret agent of Indian origin who was executed by the Nazis, in a public garden in central London.
"Today, in the presence of Her Royal Highness, we will remember a heroine of the war, a young woman of Indian origin, who unhesitatingly gave her life for Britain in the fight against Fascism," said Shrabani Basu, Chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust and author of the book Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan.
A Sufi, a musician and a published children's author, Noor became the first woman radio operator to be dropped behind enemy lines in Europe after deciding to join the war effort. Captured in France and brutally tortured by the Nazis, she did not reveal the names of any of her colleagues and remained defiant till the end.
Noor was posthumously awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest gallantry award for civilians, and the Croix de Guerre by France. The bronze bust, sculpted by British sculptor Karen Newman, stands in a corner of the square that is close to the house where Noor lived and from where she left on her last mission.
Her last word before being executed was "Liberte" - liberty.
This handout picture received from Shrabani Basu at the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial trust shows late former British secret agent Noor Inayat Khan playing a Veena. AFP photo