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UK honours Noor Inayat Khan, Indian war heroine

world Updated: Nov 09, 2012 01:04 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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The bust of Noor Inayat Khan, a British secret agent of Indian origin who was executed by the Nazis, was unveiled on Thursday in a quiet and beautiful public garden in central London by Princess Anne.

Over 400 distinguished guests filled leafy Gordon Square to pay tribute to the WWII heroine, who was shot in germany's Dachau concentration camp in 1944 at the age of 30.

The guests included 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 the agents on their deadly missions.

Princess Anne said the bust would help people think about how and why World War II heroes and heroines sacrificed their lives. "Today when we think about such stories its also appropriate to remember stories that reflect the multicultural and international life and sacrifice," Anne said.

"This bust will remind us to ask the questions, who, why ... and what we can achieve in her memory."

"We have packed this square today to 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 and published children's writer, Noor was the first woman radio operator to be dropped behind enemy lines in Europe after deciding to join the Allied cause. 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.