New Delhi [India], Mar 27 : Launching Operation Namaste to combat the spread of COVID-19, Army Chief General MM Naravane on Friday said it was his force's duty to help the government in its fight against the pandemic.
He asked his troops, deployed on the Line of Control or Line of Actual Control, to not worry about their near and dear ones and cancellation of leaves as a similar situation had been observed during Operation Parakram and the force had come out successfully from it and will execute Operation Namaste too successfully.
"In this fight against coronavirus, it is our responsibility to help the government and civil administration. As an Army Chief, it is my priority to keep my force protected and fit too. We can serve in our duties only when we are ourselves protected from coronavirus," Naravane told reporters here.
He further said social distancing could not be maintained by the Army "due to tactical and operational reasons" and, therefore, "to protect the country it is important for us to keep ourselves safe and fit. Keeping this in mind, we had issued two to three advisories in the last few weeks which should be followed."
The Indian Army has code-named its anti-COVID-19 operations as Operation Namaste and has, so far, established eight quarantine facilities across the country.
He further assured the personnel who are serving in the line of duty, away from their families, to not worry about their near and dear ones as the Army was there to take good care of them.
"I am sure we will succeed in Operation Namaste. We have established command wise helplines, any of our personnel can approach them to seek help. Further, the families can also go and visit the nearest Army camp in case any problem emerges. This message is also for the veterans," he said.
The Army Chief said that he knew that cancellation of leaves could have had an adverse impact on the morale of the soldiers but mentioned that during Operation Parakram in 2001-02 the Army personnel had not taken leaves for eight to ten months.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire country to deal with the spread of coronavirus, saying that social distancing is the only option to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly.
( With inputs from ANI )