The Indian Armed Forces will conduct fly-pasts, light up ships at sea, display military bands and shower flower petals on hospitals on Sunday in a grand display of gratitude to lakhs of "corona warriors" like doctors, paramedics and police personnel.
The announcement was made by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat at a press conference in presence of Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane and Air Chief
Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
"The nation stood together and showed resilience in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. On behalf of the armed forces, we want to thank all the corona warriors -- doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, police, home guards, delivery boys and media," Gen Rawat said.
"On May 3, there will be some special activities as a gesture of special gratitude by all three forces," he said, addressing his first press conference after assuming charge of India's first Chief of Defence Staff in January.
Gen Rawat's announcement of the special activities came shortly before the Union home ministry said the current spell of the lockdown will be extended by another two weeks from Monday. The lockdown came into force on March 25 and was scheduled to end on May 3.
He said the fixed wing and fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force will conduct fly-pasts from Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram and from Dibrugarh to Kutch on Sunday evening as a mark of respect to all front-line workers battling the pandemic.
Gen Rawat said Indian Navy helicopters will shower flower petals on leading hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Navy will also deploy its warships in formations in coastal areas and the vessels will be lit up as part of the "thanksgiving" exercise on Sunday evening.
The army will conduct mountain band displays along some COVID-19 hospitals in almost every district besides laying wreaths at police memorials across the country.
"The corona warriors -- be it the doctors, nurses, hygiene and sanitation staff, police personnel or media personnel -- they have ensured that India keeps on fighting this pandemic. We salute these warriors and their efforts and wish them the best of health," Gen Rawat said.
"We are grateful for their sacrifice and their efforts in fighting COVID-19, knowing fully well the dangers that they face," he added.
Replying to a query, Gen Rawat added that not even one soldier, sailor or airman in the frontline is affected by the infection and that armed forces are fully prepared for all challenges.
He also said that there was no let-up in anti-terror operations against cross border terrorism.
The Air Chief Marshal said that not even one case of COVID-19 has been reported in the force.
While talking of the contribution of the police personnel, the Chief of Defence Staff said wreaths will be laid at the police memorial on Sunday morning on behalf of the three service chiefs.
Army Chief Gen Naravane too said there was no let-up in India's counter-terror operations due to the pandemic. "Our operations are going on. There is no let-up in counter-terrorist operations due to COVID19."
He also said that there has been an increase in number of infiltration attempts from the Pakistani side along the LoC.
The army has recorded 14 cases of coronavirus out of which five have recovered, he said.
The decision to go for the thanks-giving activities was taken at a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the three service chiefs.
In the press conference, Gen Rawat also asserted that no operational task has been affected or will be affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said it is not proper to conclude that the novel coronavirus outbreak is a result of biological warfare.