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WWII spy Noor Inayat Khan first Indian-origin woman to get British honour Blue Plaque

Noor Inayat Khan's Blue Plaque has been put up in Bloomsbury, London where she lived before leaving for Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as an undercover radio operator for Britain's Special Operations Executive.

August 29, 2020 / 09:07 AM IST

Noor Inayat Khan, Britain's World War II spy,  became the first Indian-origin woman on August 28 to be honoured with a memorial Blue Plaque at her former family home in London.

The Blue Plaque scheme, run by the English Heritage charity, honours notable people and organisations connected with particular buildings across London.

Khan's plaque has been put up at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury, where she lived before leaving for Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as an undercover radio operator for Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE).

The new plaque reads: “Noor Inayat Khan GC, 1914-1944, SOE Agent codename ‘Madeleine' stayed here”.

She was the daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan and a descendant of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.


Noor went on to be killed at Dachau concentration camp in 1944, having revealed nothing to her captors, not even her real name.

The 'blue plaque' to commemorate Noor Inayat Khan (Image courtesy: Handout from English Heritage) A blue plaque to commemorate Noor Inayat Khan, a World War Two heroine and the first woman of Indian origin to receive the honour. Handout courtesy of English Heritage.

The SOE was an independent British Secret Service set up in 1940 by Britain's then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Noor was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France and was posthumously awarded the George Cross (GC) for her bravery in 1949.

Noor joins the likes of Ada Lovelace, the pioneer of computing, and Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who helped discover DNA, to make up only 14 per cent of over 950 such Blue Plaques celebrating women across London.

English Heritage said that while the figure is still unacceptably low, its ongoing “Plaques for Women” campaign has seen a dramatic rise in the number of public nominations for women since it launched in 2016.

Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar are among some of the other Indian-origin historical figures have been honoured with the Blue Plaques at buildings associated with their stay in London.

(With inputs from PTI)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 28, 2020 09:06 am

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