|Volume 47 Number 2, February 11, 2017||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The inaugural Annual Noor Memorial Lecture was held at SOAS in London on February 7, jointly organised by the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust and SOAS South Asia Institute. To a packed lecture hall, Shrabani Basu, Noor's biographer and founder of the Trust, explained that the Trust existed to keep alive, especially among young people, the memory and spirit of Noor Inayat Khan, the Special Operations Executive agent in wartime occupied France, who was captured, cruelly incarcerated, tortured and executed at Dachau by the Nazis in 1944. She said that, true to its promise made at the unveiling of her bust in nearby Gordon Square in 2012, the Trust had carried forward its work and, having already established an Annual Noor Prize at SOAS, was now holding the first Annual Noor Memorial Lecture, in what would be called the Liberté Series. "Liberté!" was the cry of Noor as the fatal shot rang out at Dachau.
The inaugural lecture entitled "The Struggle for Human Rights in India" was given by Vrinda Grover, a noted Advocate at the Indian Supreme Court and human rights campaigner. In her talk, Vrinda Grover highlighted in particular, from her personal experience as their lawyer, a number of immensely brave women who had taken up the fight for justice - despite huge difficulties and intimidation - after having been subjected to appalling acts of gang rape and other sexual violence carried out as a deliberate policy amidst state-organised and inspired communal violence and state terror in such places as Uttar Pradesh, Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Kashmir, among others. She spoke movingly too regarding torture and extra-judicial killings and the struggle against judicial complicity and indifference and the impunity of the armed state forces.
In an informative Q&A session moderated by broadcaster Razia Iqbal, Vrinda Grover emphasised that such fierce resistance and refusal to be cowed whatever the odds, reminiscent of the spirit of Noor, gave great hope for the battles which lie ahead. She emphasised the need for an alternative to the current direction in India, as part of a growing global movement in these troubled times.
The event ended with prolonged and warm applause.