Noor Inayat Khan

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Noor Inayat Khan was a British covert agent and Special Operations Executive (SOE) operator who worked in Nazi-involved France amid World War II, and was caught and executed at only 30 years old. She was likewise the primary female radio administrator to work covert in France, transferring messages to the Allied powers, co-ordinating critical missions and sparing endless lives.

photo via wikipedia
Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, circa 1943

Selling out by a twofold specialist prompted her imprisonment by the Gestapo (German mystery police). Indeed, even in imprisonment and torment, she didn’t uncover a sliver of data to her Nazi oppressors. Khan was a princess, an immediate relative of the Indian august state ruler, Tipu Sultan. A firm adherent to the guideline of peacefulness instructed under Sufism, Khan conquered her physical weaknesses and dread of weapons to prepare as a government operative and battle one party rule. After death, both Britain and France agreed a few distinctions and grants to her.

Adolescence and Early Life

Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan was conceived on 1 January 1914 in Moscow, where her dad, Inayat Khan, an artist and instructor of Sufism, was performing with his gathering, the Royal Musicians of Hindustan. Inayat Khan had a place with an honorable Indian Muslim family; his mom being a relative of the eighteenth century leader of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. Noor’s mom was Ameena Begum (née Ora Ray Baker), an American. Noor’s folks met in San Francisco, where her dad was giving an address on Sufism. Noor was the oldest of four youngsters; she had two siblings, Vilayat and Hidayat, and a sister, Khair-un-Nissa.

Amid World War I, the family moved to London, where her kin were conceived in London and she went to nursery at Notting Hill. In 1920, the family moved and subsided into ‘Fazal Manzil’ in Suresnes, Paris.

photo via wikipedia
B MK II receiver and transmitter (also known as the B2 radio set)

Catastrophe struck the Khan family in 1927, when Inayat Khan passed away while on a journey in India. With her mom weakened by sadness, the obligation of the family unit and her kin fell on the youthful shoulders of Noor, who only 13 around then.

Since early on, Noor delighted recorded as a hard copy short stories and sonnets, or playing the veena and the harp. She sought after a course in music at École Normale de Musique de Paris and tyke brain research at the Sorbonne. She likewise composed short stories for youngsters’ magazines and Radio Paris. At 25 years old, Noor distributed her first book of kids’ accounts ‘Twenty Jataka Tales’ in London.

Yet, the serene pace of Noor’s life was suddenly aggravated in 1940, with the beginning of World War II. She lost her family home when Germany attacked France and the whole Khan group needed to run away to London.

Ladies’ Auxiliary Air Force

As a Sufi and an adherent of Gandhi, Noor was a finished devotee to peacefulness and a staunch supporter of the Indian Independence endeavors against British provincial guideline. In any case, her assurance to battle extremism drove her to join the Allied powers by volunteering for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in November 1940.

At WAAF, Noor was sent for remote administrator preparing and afterward onto aircraft preparing school. Despite the fact that she was gaining quick ground in the remote administrator preparing, Noor felt that she expected to add to the war endeavors in a functioning way, which drove her to look for an exchange somewhere else inside the British powers.

Capture and Imprisonment

The definite reason for Khan’s catch is indistinct, however from post-war cross examinations of Gestapo officers, it is trusted that a presumed twofold specialist, Henri Déricourt, or Renée Garry, the sister of a SOE-F organize pioneer sold out Khan. At the point when the Gestapo sought her in October 1943, Khan battled without holding back with her captors, and six robust men were expected to capture her.

photo via wikipedia
Inayat Inayat Khan’s memorial plaque at the Dachau Memorial Hall

A couple of hours after her catch, Khan endeavored to escape from her repression in Paris, however her endeavor was thwarted. Where she had collapsed like a pack of cards amid her SOE preparing cross examination sessions, Khan stood her ground and did not uncover a solitary bit of genuine data when barbecued by the Gestapo.

Only half a month later, in November, Khan made a second fruitless endeavor to escape from her Paris jail. On declining to sign an affirmation that she would not make any further endeavors to get away, Khan was taken to Germany as a ‘Night and Fog’ (Disappearance without Trace) detainee, to be put in isolation, beaten and nourished the littlest of proportions. She was kept shackled at her hands and feet for ten months. While Khan enduringly wouldn’t surrender any data to her captors, her soul was broken and she was regularly heard crying as the night progressed.


On 13 September 1944, Khan alongside three other individual operators was exchanged to the notorious Dachau inhumane imprisonment. While the others were executed promptly upon landing, Khan was apparently fiercely beaten and tormented once more, before being executed by means of a shot in the head. Her last recorded word was ‘Liberté’.

photo via wikipedia
Inayat Khan’s inscription at the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, England memorialising those without a known grave

Respects and Awards

  • In October 1946, Noor Inayat Khan’s name was ‘Referenced in Despatches’. Her remembrance on the FANY commemoration in St. Paul’s Church, London made Khan the principal Muslim or Asian lady to be agreed such a respect.
  • In 1949, the British government after death regarded Khan with the ‘George Cross’ and the French government granted her a ‘Croix de Guerre’. She is additionally referenced on a SOE commemoration plaque at Dachau.
  • Moreover, a grade school and a square were named after Khan’s SOE codename ‘Madeleine’ in Suresnes, France.
  • In November 2012, a bronze bust of Khan was divulged at Gordon Square Gardens in London. In 2014, the British Royal Mail issued a memorial stamp out of appreciation for Noor Inayat Khan. In February 2019, with the declaration of Khan’s wartime home in London being enhanced with a ‘Blue Plaque’, Khan turned into the primary Indian-root lady to be agreed this uncommon respect.

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