This short biographical Hindi comic is based on the true life story of Neerja Bhanot (7 September, 1963-5 September, 1986), a flight purser with Pan Am Airlines. She worked as a model, and later as a flight purser, but her private life was far from glamorous. She had an early arranged marriage, which was marred by spousal abuse with frequent demands for dowry and even forced starvation. Fed up with the constant mental and physical abuse, she left her husband. Later on, she applied for a job as flight purser at Pan Am. She got selected, trained, and took the job.
On 5 Sep, 1986, the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73, on which she was on board staff, was hijacked by terrorists affiliated with Abu Nidal Organisation, in Karachi, where it landed. The terrorists asked the flight staff to collect the passports of the passengers on board so that they could identify the Americans whom they intended to kill. Neerja managed to hide the passports of 41 Americans on board, and thus saved their lives. A few hours later, when the terrorists got tired with the whole operation, they decided to kill everyone on the plane. Neerja succeeded in slipping off a few passengers and the pilots through the emergency exit, while she herself died of bullet wounds whilst trying to save some children. She deliberately chose not to escape, even when she had her chance, just so that she could save others. She was only 22 when she died. She received India’s highest civilian gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, Tamgha -eInsaniyat, from Pakistan and Special Courage Award (United States Department of Justice) posthumously. Her murderers were captured and sentenced, some of whom succeeded in escaping.
This comic does not focus on the aftermath of her death in the hijacking event. It only tries to depict the inspirational story of Neerja as a graphic narrative, in particular her struggles, and the events which happened during the hijacking incident.
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Illustrator – Tadam Gyadu (PencilDude)
Author – Mohit Sharma (Trendster)
Colorist – Harendra Saini
Cover Colorist – Dheeraj Dkboss Kumar
Calligrapher – Youdhveer Singh