Neerja Bhanot Award conferred

Former Chief of Army Staff General V P Malik (Retd) conferred the Neerja Bhanot Award 2012 on Ajmer-based 55-year-old Asha Manwani. Despite going through many hardships in life, from 1988 onwards, Manwani has been helping women in getting Streedhan, to get a divorce and helping women and children find shelter. The Family Court seeks her help with cases.

The annual Neerja Bhanot Award was instituted in 1990 in the memory of the Senior Flight Purser, Neerja Bhanot, who saved hundreds of lives while sacrificing her own, during a Pan Am plane hijack at Karachi Airport in September 1986. The award consists of Rs 1.50 lakh, a citation and a trophy.

Accepting the award, Manwani said, "I am proud to receive this award as it represents the spirit of Neerja Bhanot's determination and grit in the face of overwhelming circumstances. A woman must not tolerate injustice and must learn to stand up for her rights, come what may."

She said it was time that young girls and women in India refused to allow themselves to be mistreated by male members of their families, especially by their husbands.

"In marriage a woman has to demand that she is not lesser in dignity and status than the husband. Don't remain silent when you are mistreated," she said.

Speaking on the occasion, Gen Malik said Neerja was a role model for the young women of the country and had she been in the Indian defence forces she would have been a role model for young officers due to her bravery and supreme sacrifice.

"The country needs many more Neerja Bhanots, who think about the safety of others and not their own. She did the country proud," he added.

Managing Trustee Rama Bhanot and trustee Irfan Khan also spoke on the occasion. Akhil Bhanot, brother of Neerja, read out a poem written by Harindranath Chattopadhya shortly after the hijack.

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