Indian Culture, Indian History, inspiration

Neerja’s Story

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

neerja-bhanot-movie-pic-3I was alright up until the middle of the film. No, this is not a story but a real time event that happened many years ago. I thought I would not be affected by one single girl dying, for during this hijacking, many other people were killed by these terrorists. However, they had no choice but Neerja did.

She chose kindness over self-rescue.  I am talking about Neerja Bhanot who rescued over 300 passengers of Pan Am flight 73 in 1986 when four hijackers took control of the ground-bound airline, and threatened the Pakistani authorities to abide by their demands. The Pakistani authorities did whatever they could, but when the lights went out in the aircraft after 17 hours, the hijackers lost control and began shooting.

Throughout this ordeal, Neerja, who was the Purser of the flight, showed bravery and courage and helped the passengers as much as she was allowed. She hid the American passports so the hijackers couldn’t kill any Americans, and made sure the passengers were safe. In the end, Neerja opened an emergency exit and told the passengers to run. She was the last one to leave the aircraft with three children, when one hijacker turned on them. Neerja shielded the children and took the bullets.

Neerja Bhanot died.

A girl of 23 died to save the lives of three small children.

I salute such a brave girl. 

Researching about this magnificent soul, I came across the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust – Neerja Awards. If you know anyone who is deemed worthy of such an award, please follow the guidelines, for anyone who can show such bravery, deserves recognition.

You will or will not feel the same as I do, but to me, she is an angel who had come to Earth for 23 years to save over 300 precious lives.