India’s chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat on Friday said that the armed forces will show their gratitude to the country’s Covid-19 warriors on May 3 by performing a raft of activities including fly-pasts, flashing warship lights, and displays by Indian Army bands.
Briefing reporters at South Block in the presence of the three service chiefs, Rawat said military helicopters will shower petals over hospitals dedicated to treat coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients and the armed forces will lay wreath at the police memorial to show support for Covid-19 warriors, including doctors, nurses and police personnel, who have been at the forefront of the battle against the outbreak.
Rawat said the Indian Air Force’s fighter jets and transport planes will carry out fly-pasts across the length and breadth of the country, from Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram and Dibrugarh to Kutch. The United States is also carrying out fly-pasts over several of its cities as a tribute to people leading the fight against the pandemic that has killed at least 235,000 people across the world.
Rawat said the show of gratitude will involve switching on Indian warships’ lights near the shores and mounted band performances outside Covid-19 hospitals in every district of the country.
General Rawat acknowledged the contribution of health care workers, policemen, home guards personnel, sanitation workers, delivery boys and the media amid the outbreak of the highly contagious disease.
He said: “We also cannot forget the people of the nation who have adhered to government guidelines on social distancing, wearing masks, ensuring proper hygiene… And when the government gave a call for ringing bells or lighting [candles and lamps], our nation stood together.” Rawat added that the country demonstrated the resilience to overcome the public health crisis.
The military’s plan to honour front-line workers on May 3 was finalised at a meeting chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday, a government official said. The meeting was attended by the national security adviser, the CDS and the three service chiefs.
The armed forces are working on a war footing to handle the pandemic — setting up dedicated hospitals, flying medical supplies, operating quarantine facilities and playing a key role in evacuating Indian nationals from other countries.
Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said the government has asked the navy to stay ready to evacuate Indian nationals from Gulf countries. He said warships were ready to carry out the evacuation and will swing into action after getting the go-ahead.
As reported by Hindustan Times on April 29, the navy has kept three warships on standby to bring back thousands of Indian nationals stuck in the Gulf countries as New Delhi works towards implementing a challenging evacuation plan that will also include special flights.