Memorial service held for British diplomat Percy Norris shot dead in 1984 in Mumbai

Veteran cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar among dignitaries who paid tributes to slain British Deputy High Commissioner Percy Norris.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For the first time, 37 years after his assassination, British Deputy High Commissioner Percy Norris was honoured at a memorial event in Mumbai on Saturday.

Norris was assassinated on the morning of November 27, 1984, by two unknown assailants, who shot him near Flora Fountain of the city as he was being driven to his office.

The British Deputy High Commission, Mumbai, in a statement, informed that several diplomats posted in the city attended the memorial service.

“It is with deep sadness that we mark the 37th anniversary of the assassination of British Deputy High Commissioner Percy Norris. Percy, and his family paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of the U.K. and the U.K.-India relationship. Diplomats from nations across the world have been killed in service and we are grateful to the Consular Corps in Mumbai for joining us to mark Percy’s life,” said Deputy High Commissioner Alan Gemmell in an event that was attended by veteran cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar, who was among those Norris had met during his brief tenure in Mumbai in 1984.

The Hindu had reported earlier this year that the family of Norris were for a thorough investigation into the assassination, which has remained uninvestigated till now. The assassination marks the only violent death of a British diplomat in India after 1947.

“Our thoughts will be with all in Mumbai on Saturday, and we would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to arrange this commemoration for our father. He was someone to whom relationship building was natural and lay at the heart of his success in work and life,” said Madeleine and Martin Norris, children of Norris in a statement.

Norris was assassinated on the day the English cricket team was to play a Test match in Mumbai and had hosted a dinner in honour of the team the evening before.

Recollecting those moments, Mr. Vengsarkar said, “As we were ready to board the team bus at the Taj Hotel on the very morning of the first Test match against England in 1984, we heard the sad news of the brutal murder of British Deputy High Commissioner Percy Norris. The atmosphere was so depressing that nobody was in a frame of mind to start the Test match on the same day.”

It was learnt that from this year onwards, the memorial function will be an annual event that will be led by the U.K.’s mission in Mumbai.

Norris was appointed to the city as the Deputy High Commissioner at an important junction of the India-U.K. trade relationship as London was keen to tap into India’s economic potential.

An obscure international terrorist group, Revolutionary Organisation of Muslim Socialists, claimed responsibility for the brutal daylight assassination. The group was also behind the assassination of the U.K.’s cultural attaché in Athens Kenneth Whitty earlier that year.

An annual commemoration event to mark Norris and other British diplomats killed in service usually takes place in London and it is the first time that such an event was organised in Mumbai with support from the Norris family in the U.K.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 8:11:04 AM |

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