Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

07-Sep-2017
  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was a flight purser and lost her life trying to save passengers on Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists during a stopover in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 1986. Here's her story...

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was an Indian model and purser for the airline Pan American World Airways, based in Mumbai, India. All photos/Twitter and Facebook fan accounts

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was born to Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot in Chandigarh. She was brought up in Mumbai in a Punjabi family. She had two brothers: Akhil and Aneesh Bhanot

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    She received her early schooling at Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School in Chandigarh. Neerja Bhanot then moved to Mumbai with family and did her schooling at Bombay Scottish School and then graduated from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was first spotted by a magazine at the age of 16. Her beauty and talent led her to become a supermodel. She was featured in many advertisements.

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja tied the knot in 1985 and moved to Gulf. But the marriage didn’t work out and she returned to her parent’s home in Mumbai within a couple of months. Her marriage nosedived after she was harassed by demands for dowry, starved and was denied any money

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    She has acted in more than 20 advertisements, some include Vinod Cookware, Vaporex, Binaca, Benzer, Besto, saris and many more...

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot applied for a flight attendant job with Pan Am, in 1985. Upon selection, she went to Miami, Florida for training as a flight attendant, but returned as a purser

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot also had a successful modelling career simultaneously during her work at Pan Am.

    Her family members lovingly used to call her 'Laado'

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight purser on Pan Am Flight 73 flying from Mumbai to the United States, which was hijacked by four armed men on September 5, 1986 at Karachi airport in Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying 365 passengers and 19 crew members

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot was the first one to alert the captain, the co-pilot and first officers about a possible hijack and it was on her instruction they made their way out from the cockpit, ensuring that the plane could not take off

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    The hijackers of Pan Am Flight 73 asked Neerja to collect the passports of all the passengers so that they could identify the Americans. She hid the passports of the Americans and saved their lives

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    The hijackers were part of the Abu Nidal Organisation, a terrorist organisation backed by Libya; they were targeting Americans and American assets. In the early minutes of the hijacking, they identified an American citizen, dragged him to the exit, shot him dead

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    After 17 hours, the hijackers opened fire and set off explosives. Neerja Bhanot opened one of the airplane doors, and started helping the other passengers escape

     

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    According to a surviving passenger, "She was guiding the passengers to the emergency exit. That is when the terrorists were firing constantly fearing a commando attack. They saw Neerja relentlessly trying to help the passengers out and that is when they caught her by her ponytail and shot her point blank."

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    She was shot while shielding 3 American children from a hail of gunfire from the terrorists. Out of a total of 44 American passengers, two were killed during the hijacking

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    One of the children she rescued is now an air pilot and considers Neerja Bhanot as his ultimate role model. He was 7 years old that time

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Her family members lovingly used to call her 'Laado'

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot's funeral took place on September 6, a day before her birthday.

     

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot is the youngest recipient of Ashoka Chakra Award - India's most prestigious gallantry award for bravery during peace time

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    In 2004 the Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating her

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    After her death, her family set up the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust with insurance money and an equal contribution from Pan Am. 

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    The trust presents two awards every year, one for a flight crew member, worldwide, who acts beyond the call of duty and another, the Neerja Bhanot Award, to an Indian woman who when faced with social injustice, bravely faced the situation and helped other women in similar social distress

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    Neerja Bhanot is remembered for her bravery and India's daughter

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    She has even appeared on magazine covers like Manorama

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    She was a huge fan of actor Rajesh Khanna

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  • Remembering Neerja Bhanot: Rare photos of India's braveheart

    For her fearless act, Neerja was recognised internationally as ‘The Heroine of the Hijack’

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