Do you know who this lady is ?
Her name is Neerja Bhanot , and she is the youngest recipient of India's highest civillian bravery award - The Ashoka Chakra , receiving the award POSTHUMOUSLY at the age of 22 . Also , she has won awards from Pakistan and USA , and most recently the Bharat Gaurav award , right here in the Commons .
On 5th September 1986 , Pan Am 73 landed in Karachi which was from Mumbai , headed for New York via Karachi and Frankfurt . However , in Karachi 4 armed terrorists from the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organisation stormed the plane .
Neerja , aged 22 who was about to turn 23 on the 7th September , was Head Purser of that flight . It was her first time in that role too.
Neerja realised it was a hijack and immediately shouted the hijack code to alert the pilots to escape . If the pilots escaped , the plane couldn't fly , and it would be a lot more safer on ground than in air .
For the 17 hours that the passengers and flight attendants were kept hostage , Neerja and the cabin crew led by her dutifully served the passengers . The terrorists were targeting Americans , and wanted all passports to be collected to identify the American citizens . Neerja and her team hid the american passports, if the terrorists found out , they would have killed her and the cabin crew for sure .
As soon as the auxiliary lights went out, the terrorists began firing. Neerja opened the emergency doors , and although she had the chance to escape first , she wanted to fulfil her duty and be the last one to quit , dead or alive .
She got shot whilst shielding 3 children from a hail of bullets .
On the 7th September , when the Bhanot family were expecting a birthday girl Neerja , they recieved her lifeless body in a coffin .
Of the 379 lives on that plane , 359 survived .
It is important to have such role models in life , because role models start to become part of us , our personality . After watching the movie based on Neerja Bhanot titled 'Neerja' and of course reading more about her , I've realised that you should face your fear and do your duty , no matter what happens . and never compromise on your self-respect . Neerja was recovering from a brutal 2-month abusive marriage , yet she didn't let her scary past take the best of her .
It's great we have role models , especially female ones .
Salute to the brave and undying spirit of Neerja !
7th September 1963 - 5th September 1986
Watch the trailer for the movie here
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