Here is why you must know about Neerja Bhanot:

1. Who was Neerja Bhanot?

Neerja Bhanot was a flight attendant with Pan Am in Mumbai. She was murdered while saving passengers from hijackers on board in Karachi.

2. Neerja Bhanot modelling career

Neerja also appeared in many television advertisements as model. She also featured in many magazines and she was well lauded by directors for her screen appearances.

3. The ill fated Pan Am Flight 73:

  • On September 5, 1986, Neerja Bhanot, the senior flight purser for Pan Am Flight 73 boarded the flight en route from Mumbai to New York. At the flight's usual stop at Jinnah International Airport  in Karachi, four men came inside the aircraft and opened fire at the passengers.

  • As Neerja alerted the cockpit crew, all three-the pilot, the co-pilot and the flight engineer fled the aircraft leaving behind Neerja who also had an option to flee but stayed back.

  • Neerja being the senior most crew member on board was asked by the hijackers to collect the passports of all the passengers to identify the Americans. She cleverly hid the passports of 41 Americans.

  • Later when the hijackers opened fire and set off the explosives, she opened the emergency door and led people outside the flight. A number of bullets were showered upon her as she was shielding three children.

4. The hijackers: The flight hijackers were from a terrorist group called the Abu Nidal Organisation, backed by Libya, targeted Americans on board.

5. Bravery award: She became the youngest recipient of Ashoka Chakra Award  and in 2004 the Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating her.

6. Her brave death: She died almost 25 hours before her birthday on September 7, 1986. Neerja Bahnot Pan Am Trust, started by her parents, awards one brave flight crew member and one Indian woman who has faced social injustice a sum of Rs 1, 50, 000.

Latest News from India News Desk