Flypasts to petal drops: How armed forces will thank Covid warriors today

Some of the aircraft will be flown as low as 500 metres so that people can witness the flypasts from the safety of their homes | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Indian armed forces have made elaborate arrangements to express gratitude to doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff and other front-line workers engaged in fighting the coronavirus pandemic by conducting aerial flypasts, light up naval ships and shower flower petals on hospitals on Sunday.

On Friday, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat announced that the three services will carry out a series of activities to thank the "corona warriors".

"The nation stood together and showed resilience in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. On behalf of armed forces, we want to thank all the corona warriors -- doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, police, home guards, delivery boys and media," he said.

The event will start on Sunday morning with a wreath-laying at the Police Memorial in New Delhi on behalf of all three Service Chiefs to pay respects for the sacrifice by police and paramilitary forces.

It will be followed by flypasts by fighter and transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, covering a sizeable number of cities and towns across the country between 10 am to 11 am, officials told news agency PTI.

"These aircraft will cover major towns starting from Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram and Dibrugarh to Kutch. Helicopters from the IAF and Indian Navy will fly over hospitals treating coronavirus patients and shower petals as a tribute to the corona warriors," Army PRO Colonel Aman Anand said.

He said some of the aircraft will be flown as low as 500 metres so that people can witness the flypasts from the safety of their homes.

The Eastern Air Command will conduct petal drops in Itanagar, Guwahati, Shillong and Kolkata at 10:30 am. While Air Force will display a band performance in Guwahati.

In Gujarat, South Western Air Command has planned petal drops over two hospitals in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar which will be conducted from 9 am to 10 am.

Military bands will play "patriotic tunes" outside various civil hospitals treating coronavirus patients to express gratitude to doctors, nurses and paramedics, Col Anand added.

Separately, Indian Navy helicopters would shower petals on hospitals treating coronavirus patients at Mumbai, Goa, Kochi and Vizag between 10 am to 10.30 am.

Navy officials said the Western Naval Command will illuminate five naval ships from 7.30 pm to 11.59 pm off Gateway of India in Mumbai.

They would display banners like "India Salutes Corona Warriors" and will sound the siren of the ships and fire flares at 7.30 pm at anchorage. Additionally, the Naval air stations at Goa would organise a human chain on the runway.

The Eastern Naval Command will illuminate two ships at anchorage from 7.30 pm to midnight at Visakhapatnam coast.

Col Anand said Indian Coast Guard ships will be seen at 24 places, including in Porbandar, Okha, Ratnagiri, Dahanu, Murud, Goa, New Mangalaore, Kavarati, Karaikal, Chennai, Krishnapatnam, Nizamapatanam, Puducherry, Kakinada, Paradip, Sagar Island, Port Blair, Diglipur, Mayabundur, Hut bay and Campbel Bay.

So far, coronavirus has infected 37,776 people in India and claimed the lives of 1,223 people, according to the Union Health Ministry.

Gen Rawat's announcement about the special activities came shortly before the Union Home Ministry said the the current lockdown will be extended by another two weeks from Monday.

The lockdown came into force on March 25 and was to end on April 14. It was first extended till May 3.

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