Neerja Bhanot

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Neerja Bhanot (September 7, 1963 – September 5, 1986 ), was a flight attendant for Pan Am airlines, based in Bombay, India, who died while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on September 5, 1986, she went on to become the youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian award for bravery, the Ashoka Chakra.

Early life, education and marriage

Neerja Bhanot, born in Chandigarh, India, was the daughter of Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot, a Mumbai based journalist. She was an alumnus of Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh, Bombay Scottish School and St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.

Neerja had an arranged marriage in March, 1985 and joined her husband in the Gulf. However, the marriage turned sour following dowry pressure and she returned to her parents' home in Mumbai within two months. Subsequently, she applied for a flight attendant’s job with Pan Am Airline, and upon selection, went to Miami for training as a flight attendant but returned as purser.


Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight purser on the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73, hijacked after it landed at Karachi at 5 am from Mumbai by four heavily armed terrorists. PA 73 was en route to Frankfurt and onward to New York City . Neerja alerted the cockpit crew about the hijack and, as the plane was on the tarmac, the three-member cockpit crew of pilot, co-pilot and the...
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