Do You Know About The Hijack Heroine – Neerja ?

By Prachi Singh in Fashion & Lifestyle 23/12/2015

One of the most awaited films of 2016 , NEERJA’s trailer is finally out. The trailer was launched on 17th December, 2015 at fox studios YouTube channel and other social media enterprises. It is an autobiographical hindi film based on a plane hijack incident in the life of Neerja Bhanot.


Who is Neerja Bhanot?


Neerja Bhanot was the flight attendant for the Mumbai based company PAN AM which ceased its operation in the year 1991. She was the daughter of Rama Bhanot and Harish Bhanot. Her father worked as a journalist with The Hindustan Times for 30 years.






Married at an early age in the year 1985, she moved to the Gulf with her husband. The marriage didn’t work of because of dowry demands. She returned to Mumbai two months after her marriage ended, to stay with her parents. It was when she decided to apply for the post of an attendant at the PAN AM. Upon her selection, she was sent to Miami for training but she returned as a purser. The chief flight attendant of a flight is called a purser.


5 September, 1986: the day of hijack


On the unfortunate day of 5 September, 1986, PAN AM flight 73 was hijacked; whose purser was Neerja Bhanot. The flight was supposed to take off from Mumbai, land at Karachi airport and then depart for Frankfurt airport and the final destination being New York City. It was in Karachi when the plane was hijacked by 4 Palestinian men of the Abu Nidal organisation.



The four hijackers were dressed as Karachi airport security guards and were armed with assault rifles, pistols, grenades, and plastic explosive belts. At about 6:00 a.m. local time, the hijackers drove a van that had been modified to look like an airport security vehicle through a security checkpoint up to one of the boarding stairways to Pan Am Flight 73.



Bhanot immediately informed the three American pilots about the incident, who on receiving such information immediately escaped from the plane through an overhead hatch in the cockpit. Neerja, being the senior most cabin crew took charge of the plane, on the pilots leaving them alone in such terrifying situation.



Bhanot was asked to collect the passports of all passengers, but she tried to hide most of the passports under seats and inside the rubbish chute. After 17 hours, terrorists open fired and set off the explosives.



Bhanot opened the emergency door. She could have been the first to get off from the plane; instead she chose to fulfil her duties and helped other passengers and crew members to vacate the halted plane. It was while protecting three children from bullets; she got shot and died.



All the four terrorists were sentenced to death in 1988 after running a trial by the Pakistan court. They were later confined to life imprisonment after the final trial.



Awards and recognition


Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of  the ASHOK CHAKRA AWARD (highest gallantry award for bravery). In 2004, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp commemorating her. She also received the ‘JUSTICE FOR CRIMES AWARD’ posthumously along with SPECIAL COURAGE AWARD by United States of America.



Movie adaption



Her brave act of saving the people on the flight is inspiring enough to be filmed by the Fox Star Studios. The movie is titled Neerja; main lead being played by Sonam Kapoor. The official trailer has been launched and it has received much appreciation from people throughout the nation. Neerja was a brave woman, who abided by her responsibilities, instead of running away from them.



A big salute to this kind and courageous soul.  Watch out for feb 19, 2016.





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