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Veteran journalist Harish Bhanot dead


Chandigarh : Veteran journalist Harish Bhanot, who worked with the Hindustan Times for nearly three decades, died here Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 86.

Bhanot, who was the chief of bureau with the Hindustan Times in Mumbai, was also the father of Ashok Chakra winner Neerja Bhanot.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal condoled the death of Bhanot, who was cremated here.

The veteran journalist was the father of the Chandigarh-born Pan Am airhostess Neerja Bhanot, who was killed Sept 5, 1986 by terrorists who had hijacked an aircraft. Neerja tried to save passengers, particularly five children, at Karachi’s international airport after terrorists from the Abu Nidal group hijacked the plane. She managed to save the children but sacrificed her own life.

The Pan Am flight was on its way from Bombay to New York. Neerja was senior flight purser on the ill-fated flight. She was posthumously conferred the Ashok Chakra – the highest peacetime gallantry award in India – by the government. She was also given the US special courage award by the US Department of Justice in 2006, 20 years after the incident.