Neerja Bhanot

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Neerja Bhanot

Born: 7 September 1964

Died: 5 September 1986

  • She, Ashoka Chakra, Tamgha-e-Pakistan was an Indian head purser for the airline who died while saving passengers on Pan Am Flight 73 which had been hijacked by terrorists during a stopover in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986.
  • Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime gallantry, the Ashok Chakra Award, as well as several other accolades from the government of Pakistan and the United States.
  • She was shot while helping passengers escape through the emergency exits.
  • Her life and heroism inspired the biopic Neerja, released in 2016 and directed by Ram Madhvani.
  • She applied for a flight attendant job with Pan Am, when in 1985 it decided to have an all Indian cabin crew for its Frankfurt to India routes.
  • Upon selection, she went to Miami, Florida for training as a flight attendant, but returned as a purser.
  • She also had a successful modeling career simultaneously during her work at Pan Am.
  • For her bravery, the Government of India posthumously awarded Bhanot the Ashoka Chakra Award, India’s highest gallantry award for bravery in the face of the enemy during peacetime.
  • She is the youngest recipient and the first woman recipient of this award.
  • In 2004 the Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating her.

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