When I saw today’s Daily Prompt, the first personality that came to my mind was Neerja Bhanot. She was just 22 years old, three days short of her 23rd birthday, when she was killed aboard the Pan Am Flight 73 by terrorists on 5th September, 1986. She was the purser for this flight from Mumbai, India to the United States of America. 

The hijack happened at the Karachi Airport in Pakistan. She alerted the pilots as soon as the situation unfolded, which helped them escape the plane, preventing take-off. The terrorists were targeting Americans only and the crew was ordered to collect passports to identify the same. 

While collecting passports, she alerted her co-workers to throw away all American passports so as to avoid identification. This further agitated the terrorists and they open fired on all and blew explosives in the plane. She opened the emergency escape and helped everyone aboard get out. She was killed while shielding three children from the attack. 

Neerja was posthumously awarded many accolades in India, U.S.A & Pakistan. She is also the youngest recipient and the first woman recipient of India’s highest gallantry award, Ashok Chakra Award

I have always, truly admired the grit and courage she showed as she sacrificed herself, rescuing 359 people among the 379 aboard. A movie (‘Neerja’) depicting this incident came out last year.

The four-word tag line of this movie is sufficient to understand the spirit of her honourable actions.

Fear gave her courage

With her compassion and dedication, she conquered fear, terrorism & violence.  

Written in response to Daily Prompt – Conquer

Picture courtesy : Pinterest

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