Indian-origin British Spy Noor Inayat Khan May Feature On £50 Note

A petition demanding that British war hero Noor Inayat Khan’s name be featured on the new £50 note has been started.

2 min read
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Noor Inayat Khan, the India-origin British war hero, could soon feature on the new British note. The Bank of England is redesigning the £50 note.

A petition demanding that Noor’s name be featured in the new currency was started by social activist Zehra Zaidi on

The petition, which seeks to gather 15,000 signatures, has already been signed by around 13,500 members.

A petition demanding that British war hero Noor Inayat Khan’s name be featured on the new £50 note has been started.
A screengrab of the petition from

It has garnered support from several prominent figures, including UK MP Tom Tugenhat, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for British Muslims.


"Want to see an Indian woman, a war hero, on the new British £50 note? Sign this petition!" Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted.


Who Was Noor Inayat Khan?

Noor was a Muslim Sufi pacifist who believed in non-violence and religious harmony.

A descendant of Tipu Sultan, Noor was born to an Indian father and American mother. She started her career as a children’s writer in Paris, according to BBC.

When World War 2 broke out, her family moved to the UK, where she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Two years later, she was recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The SOE was a special unit set up by Winston Churchill "to set Europe ablaze".

Noor became the first female radio operator to be infiltrated into enemy-occupied France in 1943 when she was just 29-year-old.

It was “one of the most dangerous jobs” as an operator's life expectancy was six weeks back in 1943.


After mass arrests by the Gestapo destroyed the SOE's French spy network, Noor refused to abandon her comrades and decided to remain in France. For three months, she single-handedly ran a cell of agents across Paris and her actions saved the lives of countless people in Europe.

After she was betrayed and captured by the Nazis, Noor was subjected to repeated torture. But despite that, she refused to reveal any information.

In September 1944, Noor was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. Here, she was killed at the age of 30.

Noor’s apparent final word, after a savage beating, was “Liberte” (the national motto of France meaning “liberty, equality, fraternity”).

For her courage, Noor was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

"As someone whose grandparents served in the Imperial Indian army, I have to say that the army is one of the most inclusive workplaces in the world: it does not matter where you come from, only that you have stepped up to serve,” petitioner Zehra Zaidi says.

If the petition gets approved, Noor will become the first face to represent an ethnic minority on British banknotes, in which only three women have featured besides the Queen.

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