WASHINGTON: Half of India's population today wasn't born when she died in 1986 in a hail of gunfire on a hijacked plane after courageously saving
, a feat for which she was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra in India, Tamgha-e-Insaniyat in Pakistan and the Justice for Crimes Award in the US. Earlier this week, some 24 years after her heroism, one of her killers died a dog's death in the badlands of Pakistan, reportedly shot to pieces in a US drone attack.
The saga of Neerja Bhanot transfixed India at a time where there was no 24-hour news television and it had little to do with the fact that her father was a New Delhi journalist. She was a flight attendant on Pan Am Flight 73 as it headed out of Mumbai to Karachi en route to Frankfurt and onward to New York City. Four armed men dressed as airport security guards stormed the plane in Karachi. The cabin crew managed to alert th
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