Neerja Bhanot youngest & first civilian to get awarded the Ashok Chakra

neerja bhanot heroineNeerja Bhanot was  a flight attendant for Pan Am, based in Mumbai, India, who was murdered while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on 5 September 1986. She helped save so many lives yet many people don’t know about her. A group of terrorist from the  Abu Nidal Organization hijacked the flight she was working on.

 The terrorizers instructed her to collect all the passengers passports so they could find out who the Americans were so they could kill them.  So her and other flight attendants rounded up all the passports but hid and threw away the American passports.  They had to figure out how to get rid of 41 passports so they threw most of them in the trash and hid some under a seat. 

So after 17 hours the terrorist started opening fire and setting off explosives. Thanks to  Neerja’s quick thinking she opened an emergency exit and started evacuating passengers.  She decided to let the passengers off first. Before she could escape she was killed by shielding three children from a hail of bullets. 

With insurance money and help from Pan Am a  Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust was set up by her parents that gives two awards annually.  One award goes towards  flight attendants that go above and beyond the call of duty and the other award goes towards Indian woman who help fellow women in distress.