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Neerja Bhanot, AC, ( 7 September 1963 – 5 September 1986),was an Indian model and purser for the airline Pan American World Airways, based in Mumbai, India. She lost her life trying to save passengers on Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists during a stopover in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986. Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra Award. Her life and heroism inspired a biopic released in 2016 Neerja, directed by Ram Madhvani. She was shot while helping passengers escape through the emergency exits.

Bhanot was born in Chandigarh, India, and brought up in Mumbai in a Punjabi family.She was the daughter of Harish Bhanot, a Mumbai-based journalist, and Rama Bhanot. She had two brothers: Akhil and Aneesh Bhanot.She received her early schooling at Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School in Chandigarh. When the family moved to Bombay (later renamed to Mumbai), she continued her studies at Bombay Scottish School and then graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.It was in Mumbai where she was first spotted for a modelling assignment which began her modelling career.She was a huge fan of actor Rajesh Khanna and used to refer to quotes from his films throughout her life.