Today September 5 is the Death Anniversary of a girl, Neerja Bhanot who is not only remembered by India for her valour and bravery but also by USA and Pakistan. Neerja Bhanot, she was only 22 years old, an age where the mind of a person juggles between sensibility and puberty. At this tender age, Neerja lost her life to save others. She was not an army woman then who was she?
Who was Neerja Bhanot?
Born on September 7, 1973, in Chandigarh, Neerja was a favourite child of her parents Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot. They used to call her Laado. Her father was a journalist. At the age of 21, Neerja got married. Her husband was not a nice person, he always demanded dowry. Neerja divorced him and returned to her parents. She applied for Pan Am Flight Attendant job. She got selected. She also did modelling for Vicco, Binaca Toothpaste, Godrej Detergent etc products.
On September 5, 1986, a plane was hijacked. Pan AM 73 Flight which was going from Mumbai to New York had 365 passengers and 19 crew members. Abu Nidal Terrorist group hijacked it at Karachi Airport. Bhanot was the senior flight purser on the flight. When she informed the three-member cockpit crew of pilot, co-pilot and the flight engineer they immediately left the aircraft through an overhead hatch in the cockpit. As the senior-most cabin crew member, Bhanot took charge of the situation. Terrorists were targeting Americans mostly, so she and her team tried to save them by hiding their passports and she succeeded in that. She was shot while shielding 3 American children from a hail of gunfire from the terrorists.
She is known as the “the heroine of the hijack”. She was awarded by three nations, India, Pakistan and USA. She is the youngest recipient of India’s most prestigious Gallantry Ashok Chakra Award. She received multiple awards for her courage from the United States government like Justice of Crime Award, and the Tamgha-e-Pakistan from Pakistan, an award given for showing great human kindness. In the year 2004, Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating her.
We salute the greatest soul! The bravest Queen!!
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