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New book on WWII Indo-Brit agent

A book on Noor Inayat Khan, a female agent for the Allied Forces, will be launched March 1.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 15:32 IST

The life and times of Noor Inayat Khan - a descendant of Tipu Sultan and the only Asian secret agent to work for the Allied forces during World War II - have been captured in a fascinating new book to be launched March 1.

The book, titled "Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan" (Sutton), is authored by journalist Shrabani Basu, the London-based correspondent for the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group.

Based on extensive research and interviews with Noor's relatives, descendants and friends, the book presents a graphic account of her life till Sep 13, 1944, when she was shot dead by German forces at Dachau. She was 30.

Born in Moscow, Noor was raised in the Sufi style of Islam and joined Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the war. She was one of three women in the SOE to be awarded the George Cross and was also honoured with the Croix de Guerre.

Noor was brought up in France and Britain and joined the Red Cross when World War II broke out. The author writes that "...she felt she had to do more to oppose the horrors of fascism".

In Britain, Noor trained as a wireless operator before being recruited by the SOE. Such was the urgent demand for radio operators that she was sent to France before her training was completed.

Working under the codename Madeleine, she joined a group that sabotaged communication lines.

But, Basu writes, disaster struck soon and within days her network collapsed as her colleagues were arrested. Noor was instructed by her controller, the famous Maurice Buckmaster, to return home, but she refused to abandon her post as she was the last radio operator left in Paris.

Basu writes: "For a time she successfully dodged the Gestapo but by late 1943 her luck had run out. She was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned at Avenue Foch. Undaunted, she made two dramatic escape attempts, but was recaptured and sent to Germany. Here she was interrogated and tortured and finally sent to Dachau where she was shot.

"The Germans had learnt nothing from her - not even her real name."

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 15:32 IST