Who does not know the brave daughter of India, Neerja Bhanot? Words fall short to narrate the tales of Neerja Bhanot’s bravery. She was a flight attendant and air hostess for Pan Am Airlines. On 5 September 1986, she was shot while saving the lives of 360 passengers on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 from Mumbai to New York. For her courage and bravery, the Government of India honored her with its highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra. Not only India but also Pakistan and America have honored Neerja for her bravery.
Neerja Bhanot was born on 7 September 1963 in Chandigarh. Her father’s name was Harish Bhanot and his mother’s name was Rama Bhanot. She was the only daughter of her parents. Neerja’s early education was done at Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School in Chandigarh itself. After this, she had his further education at the Scottish School and St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, as her father worked in Mumbai.
Neerja was married in 1985 but it did not last long. Neerja came back and started living with her parents. In Mumbai, she applied for a job as an air hostess in Pan Am and got selected.
The story Of Brave Neerja Bhanot
On 5 September 1986, Neerja came out of her house in Unifrom. Pan Am-73 plane left for New York from Mumbai Neerja went for her regular work. Neerja was appointed as a senior purser in this aircraft. The plane was to go from Mumbai to Karachi first then New York. After reaching Karachi, all the passengers were waiting for their pilot. Then four terrorists came in and hijacked the plane. There were about 380 passengers on the plane, including children, old people, and women. All the passengers were terrified. The four terrorists who hijacked the plane were linked to Libya’s Abu Nidal Organization. Their aim was to free Palestinian comrades from prison and to crash the plane. But with Neerja Bhanot, they could not succeed in their plan.
First of all, the terrorists demanded a pilot from the government of Pakistan so that they could take the plane to their desired place. When the government rejected their demand, now they started killing the passengers. First of all those terrorists wanted to kill the American people. When Neerja was working as an air hostess, the terrorists asked her to bring passports to all the passengers. But Neerja cleverly hid all American passports. When the terrorist did not get the American passport, he got very angry and killed a passenger by taking him near the gate.
How does Neerja Save life?
Everyone in that flight was scared, Neerja gave courage to everyone. Neerja remembered that there is less fuel in the plane, so when the fuel runs out, the whole plane will be dark. As soon as this was noticed, Neerja cleverly diverted the attention of the terrorists and informed all the passengers present in the plane about the emergency gate. As soon as the fuel ran out, darkness fell inside the plane. Then without wasting time, showing courage Neerja, started taking out all the passengers one by one. If Neerja wanted here, she could have come out first but she first saved the lives of the passengers. Seeing the passengers coming out, the terrorists got furious and started firing indiscriminately. Neerja then came forward to save the lives of the children and then she got shot.
Around 20 people, including Neerja Bhanot, lost their lives in this incident. At that time Neerja was only 23 years old. Neerja Bhanot had shown such indomitable courage at such a young age. 360 lives were saved due to her wisdom. Neerja Bhanot is an example of today’s youth.
Awards for the Neerja Bhanot
This heroic self-sacrifice of Neerja earned her international fame as the Heroine of Hijack. She also became the first woman and the youngest citizen to receive the Ashoka Chakra from the Government of India. For this bravery of Neerja Bhanot, the Government of Pakistan was also awarded Tamga-e-Insaniyat.
In the memory of Neerja Bhanot, a square was named in the Ghatkopar area of Mumbai which has been inaugurated by Amitabh Bachchan himself. Remembering the bravery of Neerja, an organization was also established to reward women for their indomitable courage and valor, whose name is Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust.
A movie of Neerja
For this courageous act of Neerja Bhanot and to take her sacrifice to the masses, a film was made in her memory. The name of this film is Neerja, directed by Ram Madhvani. Actress Sonam Kapoor played the character of Neerja Bhanot in a film, the film hit the theaters on 19 February 2016. The events in the plane are shown very closely in this film.
This bravery of Neerja is an example for the youth of today, especially for girls. At the age at which girls are married today, Neerja received the country’s highest award. It is clear from the feeling which Neerja was inside that she was more concerned about others than her own.