Courage. Commitment.Compassion.

Three simple words that best personify Neerja Bhanot.

Three simple words that explain why this young and vibrant girl earned world-wide acclaim for her courage and gallant actions.

Three simple words that show how at the tender age of 23 and just 2 days before her birthday, Neerja laid down her life, while saving hundreds of others.

Neerja was the Senior Flight Purser on a Pan Am flight which was hijacked at Karachi airport by 4 heavily armed hijackers. The pilot and the flight crew fled from the cockpit. Setting aside all concern for her personal safety, Neerja identified herself to the terrorists as the crew member in-charge. A long, tension - filled ordeal started. Yet, Neerja was a perfect picture of calm, confident leadership. She comforted the passengers, especially the elderly and small children.

In an amazing act of courage and compassion for her fellow human beings, she hid the passports of the Americans as the hijackers wanted to execute Americans. After 17 hours, the hijackers opened fire and set off explosives. Acting quickly, Neerja opened the emergency door and helped a number of passengers escape. She gave her own life while shielding 3 children from a hail of bullets. Neerja was recognised internationally as "the heroine of the hijack" and is the youngest recipient of the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest civilian award for bravery.