World War II spy Noor Inayat Khan, first Indian-origin woman to get Blue Plaque in UK

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London | Published: February 25, 2019 10:23:58 PM

Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan, was an agent for Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II.

World War II, Noor Inayat Khan, Blue Plaque, English Heritage honours, Blue Plaque scheme, Special Operations Executive, india newsThe statue of Noor Inayat Khan. (Reuters)

Britain’s World War II spy Noor Inayat Khan was on Monday confirmed as the first Indian-origin woman to be honoured with a Blue Plaque at her former London home. The Blue Plaque scheme run by English Heritage honours notable people who lived or worked in particular buildings across London. Khan’s plaque is set to go up at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury, where she lived as a secret agent during the war.

Khan, the daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan, was an agent for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and was captured and killed by the Nazis in 1944 at just 30 years of age. “It is from this house that she left on her final and fatal mission. Noor gave her life in the fight against fascism and her message of peace and tolerance of all religions is even more relevant today,” said Shrabani Basu, Chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust (NIKMT).

“The blue plaque will be a wonderful addition to the area that has a special association with Noor. It will be the first Blue Plaque for a woman of Indian-origin in Britain and is a real honour,” said Basu, who has been campaigning for the plaque since 2006 as the author of ‘Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan’. Taviton Street is close to Gordon Square, which the NIKMT chose for the installation of a memorial bust in 2012 of the spy, a descendant of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.

The Blue Plaque at her home is expected to be installed following building approval within the next few years. “The Blue Plaques Panel have agreed that Noor Inayat Khan should be commemorated with a plaque. Once a nomination has been approved, it can take a further two or three years for a plaque to be unveiled,” an English Heritage spokesperson said.

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