One selfless act performed by a young woman from India left the world speechless. Neerja Bhanot, a flight attendant for Pan Am, was brutally killed while trying to save the flight’s passengers from four heavily armed terrorists.
When the terrorists boarded the flight after landing in Karachi from Mumbai, Bhanot immediately alerted the pilots and flight engineer so they could escape. Because of her warning, they were able to get off the aircraft.
Since she was the most senior cabin crew member aboard the plane, Bhanot took charge. The flight attendant who sacrificed her life to save others courageously announced, “Now that the pilot has gone, I am the commander.”
Unfortunately, Neerja died two days before her 23rd birthday, in the final bloodbath of the hijacking. She did her best to stop the plane from taking off the ground and saved the lives of the innocent hostages from 17 hours of captivity by hiding the passports of all American passengers from the Arabic-speaking terrorists. She secretly gathered all the American passports and hid them aboard since it was pretty obvious that Americans were the terrorist’s primary target.
Neerja kept smiling throughout the hijacking incident, despite the fact that fear was dominating her. What she did infuriated the terrorists and while she could have been the first to escape after opening the emergency door, she decided not to jump out. Instead, she helped the other passengers escape and shielded 3 innocent children from a hail of bullets.
The flight attendant became one of the youngest recipients of Ashok Chakra, India’s highest civilian award for bravery. She was also recognized internationally as “the heroine of the hijack.”
Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked on September 5, 1986. This was definitely a story wherein faith in humanity was restored.
Feeling inspired by this post? Create a free profile here and spread the word.