Neerja Bhanot's biopic titled Neerja starring Sonam Kapoor in the lead and directed by Ram Madhvani has been loved by the critics and viewers.
Even the family appreciated the movie! At such a time, few crew
members who were neglected in the movie, called Neerja movie a
fictious tale which is far from the truth. (Pan Am Crew Member Pissed With Makers Of Neerja
Bhanot Biopic, Calls It Fiction!)
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But now, a Pan Am hijack survior, Dr Kishore Murthy revealed the
entire true story to a leading daily. He said:
"I was on my way to the US to attend an international
conference. We were to take a Pan Am Mumbai-Frankfurt-New York
flight. It came as a surprise to us at Bombay airport when we were
told the flight would first land at the Karachi International
Airport and then proceed to Frankfurt. Prior to our departure, we
had heard that all airports in Pakistan and India were on high
alert as the Americans had bombed (Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar)
Gaddafi's palace (in retaliation for the Libyan involvement in the
bombing of a Pan Am flight, which crashed at Lockerbie, Soctland).
When we landed in Karachi, the aircraft was hijacked by Libyan
terrorists but Neerja, who was well trained in anti-hijack
measures, alerted the pilots and they escaped through the cockpit
"Neerja was communicating with the terrorists in broken Arabic.
She was also translating their demands into English for the control
tower. She was very brave and a true global citizen. The hijackers
were looking for American passengers, so she hid their passports.
Despite this, one Indian American, I don't recall his name, got up
and said he was American. He thought the terrorists were gunning
for Indians because a majority of the passengers were Indians. He
didn't realise they were looking for Americans. The terrorists shot
him right there and threw his body out of the plane."
"25-30 passengers were killed and a large number were
injured."When a plane lands, a generator is attached to it as it
provides electricity to the plane when it is parked. But on that
day, the generator was not connected and after 18 hours, the lights
started dimming and the terrorists thought they were getting
Dr Kishore adds, "The terrorists began screaming in Arabic. They
made 300 passengers move to the front of the economy cabin. Four
terrorists took position in four corners of the cabin and started
shooting and throwing grenades. One person opened the door that led
to the wing of the plane. I remember Neerja screaming to that
passenger that he should use another escape route where there was
an emergency chute. But he jumped from the wing to the ground and
was, as a result, paralysed. It was very sad."
"They were probably were angry with Neerja because of the way
she was thinking on her feet, marshaling the limited resources
available to her and saving so many passengers. I was in the sixth
row of the economy class and vividly remember how they shot her at
point blank range in front of me. I was shocked to see her dying.
One cannot express those feelings in words. Whenever I think of
that moment, I wonder: Is this humanity? What has a 23 year old
done to deserve this? She was only trying to help people."
Dr Kishore further adds, "You know, Neerja was the first person
who could have run away. She was trained and she knew what was
happening. She was at the entrance of the aircraft when the
terrorists boarded. She could have escaped like the pilots did, but
she didn't do it. That shows her guts and her inner strength. She
was truly a great leader. This memory is so vivid that, even now,
after 30 odd years I can't forget her lovely face. She was an
angel. If at all there is a God, for me it is her. We talk of God
but no one has seen Him.Like me, there are 300 odd passengers who
survived because of her. I feel this film on Neerja should have
been made a long ago. This is the bravery we should be talking
about.A young lady commanding a plane, negotiating with terrorists,
keeping the passengers calm and maintaining her cool is the kind of
bravery you rarely see in life. We came to know the terrorists were
caught at Karachi airport and jailed in Pakistan for many years.
After they escaped, they were caught by American forces in Bangkok
and are still in jail. Neerja saved Indian and American lives that
unfortunate day. I request the people of India to watch this