A WWll Spy Remembered?
Britain still remembers her services to the Crown that were rendered through assignments of espionage works for them, during the Second World War. Seventy-five years after the War, London has decided to honour Indian-origin British spy Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan (January 1, 1914 – September 13, 1944), also known as Nora Inayat-Khan and Nora Bakerfor, with the Blue Plaque for her bravery and sacrifice. It is to be noted that Khan is the first woman of Indian-origin to receive the Blue Plaque!
Khan used to stay at 7, Taviton Street in Bloomsbury District of Central London. The British Government has planned to install the Blue Plaque in front of that house. The English Heritage, as a rule, installs the Plaque outside the residences of celebrities so that the symbol helps common people realise that famous personalities used to live there.
Born in Moscow in 1914 to Indian Sufi teacher Inayat Khan and American mother Pirani Ameena Begum (born Ora Ray Baker), Khan received education in London and Paris. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the Khan family left Russia for London, and settled in Bloomsbury. Khan, who studied at a local school in London, received a Degree in Child Psychology from Sorbonne University and also in Music from the Paris Conservatory. After the demise of her father in 1927, she had to take the responsibility of her grief-stricken mother and younger siblings.
In 1943, Khan joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a British WWII Organisation formed to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe (and later, also in occupied Southeast Asia) against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements. While serving in Paris (in 1943), she evaded capture by the Nazis and continued to send messages to London for far longer than expected. Later, she was betrayed, detained and interrogated… but, refused to reveal the pieces of secret information. Khan, who was executed at Dachau in September 1944, has been described as “one of the silent heroes of the Second World War”!
Meanwhile, the English Heritage has said: “Her Blue Plaque will mark the house in Bloomsbury that was her family home when she left for France in 1943 and where her family received the news that she was missing the following year. She ultimately lost her life at the hands of the Gestapo in 1944.”
In the past, the English Heritage had honoured a number of Indians, including Rammohan Roy (in Bristol), Mahatma Gandhi , Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambedkar, with Blue Plaques at their houses at the places they used to stay.
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