Real Life Heroes

Neerja Bhanot- Heroine of the Hijack

When you say,” I am 23. I am very young to make a difference to the society.”Before you say so, I would like you to read this article about” Neerja Bhanot”

Neerja Bhanot- Do something, knocks on your mind? If yes, I can sense the proud you are feeling because this woman was an Indian. If Nothing knocks, Then go ahead take out some time and give 2 minutes to read this article.

Neerja Bhanot

Most of the people become engineers, doctors, IAS, Filmstar. Few becomes “Human”.

Born  in Chandigarh on 7th September 1962 to the home of  Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot. She got married at the age of 22 but left her husband after 2 months because of pressurizing dowry demands. But this woman refused to surrender to the society because she was born with the spirit to fight. Despite of having a sour marriage, she started her career in Modelling and made appearances in various advertisements like Binaca toothpaste etc..

She was on her way to the final destination. They say, “what meant will be done.”  She took the anti-hijacking training and became flight attendant Pan Am Flight 73 which was hijacked  four heavily armed terrorists after it landed at Karachi at 5 am from Mumbai. Being true to her work, she immediately alerted the cockpit crew about the hijack.

Bhanot could have easily escape but she chose humanity over fear and saved almost 360 passengers by hiding the passports of the 41 Americans on board – some under a seat and the rest down a rubbish chute. She was a brain with beauty.

Bhanot opened the emergency door and helped a number of passengers escape. She could have been the first to jump  but she was a warrior not a coward. Being the senior member, She protected the three children an was shot dead by hijackers. After loosing her life, she got her second name- “Hijack Heroine”.

Some people live till eternity and she was one of them. She was the woman with sheer courage. She continues to inspire many lives even after her death. Some people deserves more than words- She became the youngest recipient to receive Ashok Chakra Award, India’s most prestigious gallantry award for bravery during peace time. In 2004 the Indian Postal Servicereleased a stamp commemorating her.

Lucky are the parents who were blessed with such daughter. Her parents, in the memory of their braveheart daughter established Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust. The trust presents two awards every year, one for a flight crew member, worldwide, who acts beyond the call of duty and another to an Indian woman who, when faced with social injustice such as dowry or desertion perseveres and then helps other women in similar social distress. The award includes a sum of INR 1,50,000, a trophy and a citation.

She is a global icon and praised for her commitment to humanity.  Bhanot’s brother Aneesh went to Washington DC in 2005 to receive the ‘Justice for Crimes Award’ awarded posthumously to her as part of the ‘Annual Crime Rights Week’ at a ceremony held at the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. In 2006, she and the other Pan Am Flight 73 flight attendants and Pan Am’s flight director for Pakistan were awarded the Special Courage award by the US Department of Justice.

Some people shines even after death and she was among them. Even the streets of Mumbai couldn’t forget her and were decorated with a square called Neerja Bhanot Chowk is named after her in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar (East) suburb by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Her life would soon be seen in movie-with Sonam Kapoor playing role of Neerja.

Being born as a human is a gift. Showing Humanity is a way of thanking God.

“Her loyalties to the passengers of the aircraft in distress will forever be a lasting tribute to the finest qualities of the human spirit”.-Ashok Chakra citation