Harish Bhanot is dead

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Chandigarh, Jan 1 (UNI) Veteran Journalist Harish Bhanot, father of Neerja Bhanot who sacrificed her life while trying to save three children from hijackers of a Pan Am airlines plane in 1986, died here today after a prolonged illness.

He was 86 and survived by his wife and two sons.

Bhanot, who was also a former nominated Councillor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, was cremated at the local cremation ground in the afternoon.

His daughter, Neerja, a senior flight purser with Pan Am, was killed by terrorists during a hijacking bid in September 1986, while shielding three children from bullets fired by the hijackers. Apart from Neerja, 19 other persons were killed during the hijack bid at the Karachi airport. For her bravery, government posthumously awarded her the Ashoka Chakra using the money from the insurance settlement, he and wife, Rama, set up a trust to institute an annual award for Indian women who displayed exemplary courage.

Expressing profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Mr Bhanot, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he was an outstanding journalist who performed his professional duties with utmost dedication, commitment and sincerity.

His death has created a vacuum which was impossible to be filled in, he added.

UNI VKJ-MA VD RN2255

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