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Indian Armed Forces salute 'corona warriors' in nationwide thanksgiving events

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Photos: IAF/Twitter

NEW DELHI /CHENNAI/MUMBAI/KOLKATA (PTI): Fly-pasts by fighter jets, aerial flower shower, performances by military bands at major hospitals and lighting up of warships marked the nation-wide mega exercise by the armed forces on Sunday to express gratitude to lakhs of doctors, paramedics and other front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian Air Force's combat jets and transport aircraft flew over various state capitals including Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Guwahati, Patna, Lucknow, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram to salute the "corona warriors".

Army's military bands also performed at leading hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country.

A fleet of military jets comprising Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Jaguar roared over the Rajpath, Delhi's centrepiece boulevard, and then orbited the national capital region for around 30 minutes from 11 AM. Residents in many areas witnessed the spectacular fly-past from their balconies amid the ongoing lockdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the thanks-giving activities as "great gesture by our armed forces."

In most areas, the aircraft flew at an approximate height of 500 metres to 1000 metres keeping aerospace safety in mind, a senior official in the Indian Air Force said.

A large number of helicopters belonging to the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy dropped flower petals over leading hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country.

In the evening, 25 Indian Naval warships across nine port cities including those in Andaman and Nicobar Islands were illuminated from 7:30 PM as part of the thanks-giving exercise. Overall, 40 ships participated in the exercise.

At the sea, the Navy's front-line ships INS Jalashwa and INS Savitri saluted the 'corona warriors'. Navy personnel on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya too expressed their appreciation by forming a human chain.

In the Southern Naval command, seven fast interceptor crafts in Kochi displayed a banner, thanking those fighting the pandemic.

The thanks-giving activities started with laying of wreaths at the national police memorial in Delhi to honour the police personnel deployed in enforcement of the nationwide lockdown, officials said. A military chopper also showered petals on the memorial.

From Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram and Dibrugarh to Kutch, the Army carried out these activities and felicitated health professionals and emergency supply operatives.

"Visits to hospitals were carried out in over hundreds of towns in all states from the local Army formations," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

In a series of tweets, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh complimented the armed forces for the exercise.

"I thank the Armed Forces for their special initiatives like fly pasts, showering flower petals and several other performances to express gratitude towards medical professionals, police and other frontline warriors. The entire nation stands united in these challenging times," Singh said.

Singh said the "frontline warriors" are doing commendable work in strengthening India's fight against COVID-19.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat had on Friday announced that the three services would carry out a series of activities to thank the "corona warriors".

An IAF chopper showered flower petals on Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) COVID Hospital in Bhubaneswar.

"We express our heartfelt gratitude for motivating and lifting the spirits of the COVID warriors at KIMS... and they would continue their fight against the novel coronavirus with renewed zeal," said Dr Achyuta Samanta, Founder of KIMS.

In Bhopal, an MI-17 helicopter of the IAF dropped petals at the government-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the private Chirayu Hospital.

Wing Commander Abhishek Yadav, who was the co-ordinating officer for the exercise, said, "Usually people thank the armed forces, but this time we paid our gratitude to people at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19."

Similarly in Mumbai, an aircraft dropped flowers on the state-run J J Hospital, KEM Hospital and the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, which have been treating coronavirus patients.

The Navy's representatives met doctors, paramedics, police personnel, firemen, sanitation workers and other frontline workers at the Ernakulam General Hospital in Kerala and applauded their efforts in fighting COVID-19.

The front-line workers were overwhelmed by the gesture of the armed forces as many clapped and took photos.

"We are doing our duty, we know the danger of the disease, but we come here and do as its our duty. Such a gesture, that too from the armed forces is great, it will help us keep going," a hospital staff said in Bengaluru.

In Hyderabad, IAF's Chetak helicopter hovered over the state-run Gandhi hospital and also at the military hospital in Golconda and showered petals, as doctors, nurses, paramedical, sanitation and other staff and police personnel assembled near the premises.

An IAF Mi-17 helicopter took off from Barrackpore air force station and showered flower petals over Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute and Command Hospital in Kolkata.

In Chennai, helicopters of the IAF strew flower petals on the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and the Tamil Nadu Government Multi-Super Speciality Hospital at Omandurar Estate in the heart of the city.

Later, a Coast Guard helicopter carried out a similar activity, honouring personnel at the Government Stanley Medical College and Kilpauk Medical College in the city.

In the evening, naval ships INS Sahyadri and INS Kadmatt were illuminated off the Marina.

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