The Indian Air Force, Army and Navy joined hands today to express their gratitude to healthcare workers, police, and forces at the frontlines of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. To show their support to Covid-19 warriors, flypasts, lit-up ships and musical tributes by army bands outside hospitals took place across the country. From Srinagar to Hyderabad, Mumbai to Itanagar, the flypasts by the air force and the navy added to the tribute.
On Friday, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, with all three service heads, announced the "gesture of special gratitude" will consist of the Air Force conducting flypasts across the length and breadth of the country. Another "gesture of special gratitude" will be helicopters showering petals on hospitals and Army bands playing outside medical buildings in most districts, he said.
This is the third major display of gratitude to health workers, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request to Indians to clap for the Covid-19 warriors from their balconies, followed by people switching off their lights and lighting candles and diyas on the PM’s request.
In Delhi, the Indian Air Force's (IAF) fighter jets from the Western Air Command dropped petals at hospitals across the city from 10:30 am. Some of the hospitals are Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.
Medical workers react as an IAF chopper showers flower petals on them at AIIMS, New Delhi. (PTI)
The fighter aircraft formations comprising Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29 and Jaguar flew over Rajpath in central Delhi and will circle over the city for 30 minutes from 10 am.
In Mumbai, military aircraft dropped petals at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital and Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, among others. In Bengaluru, a helicopter showered flowers over Victoria Hospital, as doctors and other medical workers in hospital gowns and masks cheered on. A military band played alongside.
An IAF helicopter showers flower petals on medics to applaud them for their services in Bengaluru. (PTI)
An IAF helicopter showered flower petals over the Infectious Diseases and Beliaghata General (IDBG) Hospital in Kolkata at 10.30am.
Flower petals were also dropped by IAF aircraft over hospitals at Guwahati and Shillong as an expression of gratitude to doctors, nurses, paramedical and other staff who are fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic from the frontline, the official said on Saturday. Defying haze over the mountains of Itanagar, two advance light helicopters of the IAF showered petals on the lone COVID-19 hospital in Arunachal Pradesh.
Helicopters of the Indian Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard took to the skies and carried out the thanksgiving effort in cities, including Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Visakhapatnam, and Bengaluru.
An IAF chopper flies over Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai. (PTI)
The Southern Naval Command (SNC) in Kochi, in keeping with the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), would represent the Indian Armed Forces to express gratitude and appreciation to the entire nation for the perseverance and committed efforts of the virus warriors.
A number of activities has been planned by SNC to express solidarity and gratitude to the coronavirus warriors, including medical professionals, health workers, policemen, government staff and mediapersons, he said.
Navy choppers also showered flowers on the main hospitals in Andhra's Vishakhapatnam and in Goa as a mark of gratitude to the frontline health workers who were rendering yeoman service.
Several ships of the Indian navy as well as the coast guard also partook in the celebration, with personnel onboard the Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya form a human chain as a gesture to express gratitude and appreciation.
Personnel aboard the INS Vikramaditya form a human chain
Later, four Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships would anchor in the centre of the channel opposite the Marine Drive and carry out a traditional illumination and firing of green flares accompanied by sounding of siren to underline the Navy's solidarity with the coronavirus warriors.
Military bands also serenaded the medical personnel outside various civil hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country with "patriotic tunes".
The celebrations were dampened by news of the death of five Indian army personnel, including two officers, as well as a police official during a gun battle with militants in Kashmir region on Saturday.
They were killed while freeing hostages in Kashmir's Kupwara district, an Army spokesman said. Two militants were also shot dead, he added.
(With inputs from agencies)