British MPs for Tipu Sultan descendant memorial
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Last Updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 22:07
London: Twenty-two British lawmakers have backed a proposal for a memorial here for Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of erstwhile ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan, who was awarded UK's highest civilian honour for her crucial role as a secret agent during the World War II.

Valerie Vaz, the newly elected Labour MP, tabled an early day motion in Parliament calling for the House to recognise the "extraordinary bravery" of Noor who was awarded the George Cross.

She wanted the House to back a campaign to have Noor's bust installed in Gordon Square, near the house where she lived.

It will be the first memorial for an Asian woman in Britain.

The campaign for a memorial for Noor also has the backing of high-power Asian women who signed a petition last week on her behalf. These include Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti, and filmmaker Gurinder Chadha.

"Noor Inayat Khan sacrificed her life for this country. We cannot let her memory fade away," said Shrabani Basu, author of Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan, one of the prime movers of the campaign.

"She was a gentle young woman, a writer and musician, but when the time came, she showed the most extraordinary bravery in the field. She believed in the principles of freedom and liberty and died for her adopted country. We owe this to her."

Noor was a secret agent in the Second World War. Recruited by the Special Operations Executive, the secret arm set up by the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze", she became the first radio-operator to be infiltrated into occupied France under the codename of Madeleine.

She played a crucial role in the war effort helping the French resistance. She was betrayed and captured by the Germans, and brutally tortured and shot at Dachau Concentration Camp.

She was only 30. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross by Britain and the Croix du Guerre by France, the highest civilian honours of both countries.

In September 2006, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited her family house in Suresnes in Paris and honoured her memory.

In France, Noor is known as the 'Resistance heroine'. In Paris a featy square has been named after Noor. There is a plaque outside her house in Paris and every year a military band plays outside it on Bastile Day to honour her memory.

There is a plaque in her honour at Dachau Concentration camp. There is no personal memorial for her in London.


First Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 22:07

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