Dr. Subramanian Swamy
|Neerja Bhanot was just 23 years old|
Soon after the aircraft was hijacked, Bhanot alerted the cockpit crew and, as the plane was on the tarmac, the three-member American cockpit crew of pilot, co-pilot and the flight engineer fled from the aircraft.
Within a short time after seizing control of the aircraft, hijackers realized that the pilots had escaped off the plane so was therefore forced to negotiate with the officials asking them to arrange the pilots.
The hijackers then ordered the flight attendants to collect the passports of all passengers. Neerja Bhanot realized that the passengers with American passports would be singled out by the hijackers so she hid the passports of the 41 Americans on board - some under a seat and the rest down a rubbish chute.
After 17 hours when the pilots were not arranged, the hijackers
opened fire and set off explosives. Bhanot opened the emergency door and helped a number of passengers escape. She could have been the first to jump out when she opened the door but she decided not and was shot while shielding three children from a hail of bullets fired by the terrorists..
359 people were saved while 20 lost their lives.
Bhanot was recognised internationally as "The Heroine of The Hijack" and is the youngest recipient of the Ashok Chakra Award, India's most prestigious gallantry award for bravery during peace time.
And well deserved; she was so young and beautiful, she had everything to live for but sacrificed herself for 3 children. That's a hero. God bless her.