Indian resistance spy to get a memorial in UK

Last Updated: Sep 13, 2010, 09:52 AM IST

New Delhi: A bust of Noor Inayat Khan, a spy of a Second World War resistance group and a descendant of the 18th century south Indian ruler Tipu Sultan, will be installed at the Gordon Square in London. It will be the first memorial of an Asian woman in Britain.

"The London University that owns the park cleared the memorial this week," writer Shrabani Basu, who has been campaigning for her memorial, told IANS from London.

Basu is the author of "Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan" and the founder of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust.

The bust will be installed near the house where Noor Inayat lived and from where she left for her last mission to France.

The approval comes after months of campaigning by the trust and a motion tabled by Labour MP Valerie Vaz in July.

"I have been campaigning for months to get a bust of Noor Inayat Khan installed in London. The bust will be the first memorial to an Indian woman in Britain. It is a significant milestone," Basu said.

"It means her memory will be preserved for future generations. It will not only be a memorial to an inspirational Indian woman, but also a memorial for peace, as Noor was a follower of the Sufi faith and believed in non-violence. Noor’s sacrifice will not have been in vain," Basu said.

Thirty high-profile Asian women, including a pressure group`s director Shami Chakrabarti and film director Gurinder Chadha, had signed a petition backing the call for a memorial for Noor, Basu said.

"I am delighted. Noor Inayat Khan deserves this recognition," said Valerie Vaz, who tabled the motion and personally wrote to the Vice Chancellor Graeme Davis.

Biographer Basu said: "Noor played in Gordon Square as a child".

"As a secret agent she lived nearby on 4 Taviton Street, and would often spend her off-days reading on one of the benches in the square," she said.

Noor, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, was recruited by the Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation set up by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

She infiltrated into France under a false identity where she worked for the French resistance movement. She was betrayed, captured by the Nazis, brutally tortured and killed in Dachau concentration camp in Germany. She was 30.

She was posthumously awarded the George Cross by Britain and France awarded her the Croix de Guerre, their highest civilian honour. She is the only Indian woman to get the George Cross.

The bust will be sculpted by well known-sculptor Karen Newman.

IANS