Neerja, a symbol of bravery , humanity and duty


This happened 30 years ago; precisely on 5th September 1986. It is a hijacking event and it is making headlines today in 2016 due to a movie made on this incident. The movie is called Neerja. I am blogging about it means that it has made a significant impact in my cinematic experience. I could feel the darkness, the madness, the ruthlessness and raw animalistic emotion one side  contrasted by love, compassion, humanity,sense of duty, supreme sacrifice and divine angelic emotion other side.

It was an American plane, Pan Am 73, carrying mostly Indians, Pakistanis and a few Americans which got stormed in by Palestinian terrorists supported by Libyan govt. at Karachi airport. We, typically, while reading news in newspaper or seeing footages in TV do not get to feel the rawness of being in the event unless we are presented the experience by such brilliantly crafted movie.

Neerja represented true Indian spirit of dutifulness and service while discharging her duty of being the First Flight attendant and in the absence of pilots and captains of aircraft who abandoned the plane and abdicated their responsibility. The leadership was personified when she could engage with the terrorists to do her duty. The risks were too high. When every one was cowering under fear, she mustered courage to speak the mad men and maintained a sense of normalcy, hope, expectation for grueling 17 hours.

In contrast seer lack of conscience was manifesting in the wildness of terrorist acts when a young man is shot point blank in front of her mother and thrown out; when a bruised ego propels one mad terrorist to kill the very person, a radio specialist, who was helping them to connect with the negotiators.


But the undaunted spirit of Neerja continued to inspire her colleagues, the fellow attendants who effectively hided the passports of 41 Americans and saved their lives; persuaded the madcaps to allow the stewards handle passengers for serving water, food and escorting kids for going to toilets.

When terrorism is based on being unreasonable, mad and impetuous; it could still be engaged with calm mind , courageous heart and responsible conscience. A contrast, being played even now across the world and is being repeated as history. This story brings me the memory of Nightingale and her role in world war 2.

Her intelligence  and bravery could save some 365 passengers and crews out of total 385. She prompted the pilots before terrorists could go to cockpit and as a result the pilots could escape. She prompted the passengers to support her in opening the emergency door so that the terrified passengers could escape. But her sense of duty made her to stay till everyone has left and as  result was shot on point blank by the terrorists when she was shielding three kids to safe escape. One of these kids has grown up to become pilot to fly international flights and has dedicated his life to the memory of Neerja and her values.

Such true events, when experienced even thru cinema, leaves us with many questions in our mind about our views of life and its challenges. It humbles us to shed useless fear and anxiety and concentrate on true purpose, the purpose to build  brave , conscientious, dutiful hearts and lead from the front to serve humanity at large.

The contrast improves our understanding. But the question is when will this understanding pervade the whole human consciousness across all continents and eradicate terrorism from earth once for all.





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