Shocking Facts Of Neerja Bhanot Will Leave You In Tears!
Neerja Bhanot (7 September 1963 – 5 September 1986) was a purser for Pan Am, based in Mumbai, India, who was murdered while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on 5 September 1986. Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of India's highest peacetime military award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra.
In 2001, Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini, one of the hijackers who shot the passengers, was captured by the FBI in Bangkok after being released by Pakistan. He is currently serving a 160-year prison term in Colorado. For her bravery, the Government of India posthumously awarded her the Ashoka Chakra Award (India's highest gallantry award for bravery in the face of the enemy during peace time)
Neerja Bhanot was born in Chandigarh and is the daughter of Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot, a Mumbai-based journalist. Bhanot had an arranged marriage in March 1985 and joined her husband in the Gulf. However, the marriage turned sour following dowry pressure and she returned to her parents' home in Mumbai within two months.
She then applied for a flight attendant job with Pan Am, and upon selection, went to Miami for training as a flight attendant, but returned as purser. Neerja was the senior flight purser on the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by four armed men.
The flight was hijacked on September 5, 1986, while on the ground at Karachi, Pakistan. Four heavily-armed terrorists, dressed as airport security guards, entered the aircraft. As reported, the hijackers were part of the terrorist Abu Nidal Organization and were backed by Libya.
The terrorists then instructed Bhanot to collect the passports of all the passengers so that they could identify who are the Americans. When she realized that Americans were the target, she hid their passports and threw them in rubbish pit.
After 17 hours, the hijackers opened fire and set off explosives. Neerja Bhanot opened the emergency door and helped number of passengers to escape. She could have been the first to jump out when she opened the door, but she decided not to and was shot while shielding three children from a hail of bullets. This happened just less than 25 hours before her 23rd birthday.
From a total of 41 American passengers, only 2 were killed. From total 320 passengers, 20 of them who were killed were from India, Pakistan, US and Mexico. The hijackers, said to be from the Abu Nidal Organisation, were captured by Pakistan, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1988. Their sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
To remember her bravery, in 2004, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating herWith her bravery and heart wrenching story, Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja Bhanot is surely a must watch film. The way Neerja fought without fearing about her life at the age of 23, will surely leave you in tears.