Updated: April 29, 2022 6:57:29 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the Centre is working towards lifting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the Northeast region.
“For long, many states of the Northeast have been under AFSPA. But in the last eight years, because of peace and better law and order situation on ground, we have removed AFSPA from many parts of the region,” said the Prime Minister, addressing a ‘Peace, Unity and Development’ rally in Diphu in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.
Earlier in the day, he inaugurated three colleges for veterinary science, agriculture, model government colleges in Diphu. He also launched the Rs 1,150 crore Amrit Sarovar Project to rejuvenate 2,950 water bodies across Assam. In Dibrugarh, he later inaugurated seven new cancer care hospitals, as well as laid the foundation stone for seven more.
The Prime Minister said that since 2014, violent incidents had reduced by 75 per cent in the region. “That is why we were able to lift AFSPA from first Tripura, then Meghalaya,” he said.
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“In Assam, AFSPA has been in force for three decades, and the previous governments kept extending it. But in the past few years, the situation has improved so much that AFSPA was lifted from 23 districts,” he said, adding that the Centre was working towards lifting the Act from Nagaland and Manipur.
The demand to repeal the controversial AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces to arrest without warrants and even shoot to kill in certain situations in “disturbed areas”, got a renewed push after fourteen civilians were killed in a botched-up security ambush in Nagaland’s Mon district.
In his speech, Modi complimented the Chief Ministers of the region for their efforts in solving the decades-old inter-state boundary disputes. He said the BJP’s double-engine government had worked towards bringing peace and development in Assam.
“Since 2014, there has been peace and development in the Northeast,” he said, citing the peace accords in Assam’s Karbi Anglong, Bodo region and Tripura.
In Dibrugarh, while inaugurating the cancer hospitals, the Prime Minister said cancer is detected in big numbers in Assam and the Northeast. “The most impacted are the poor and the middle class. There was a time a few years ago when poor and middle class patients had to go far away to big cities for treatment. This was a big financial burden on them,” he said, adding that the scenario had changed in the past five years.
“Assam has a big network of cancer care hospitals courtesy the work of former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, current Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Tata Trusts,” he said.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma attended the public meeting held at Dibrugarh to mark the inauguration of 7 cancer centres and laying of foundation stone for another seven in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 28, 2022.The new hospitals – being built at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore – are a collaborative initiative by the Assam government and Tata Trusts. A PIB release said the project is aimed at building “South Asia’s largest affordable cancer care network with 17 cancer care hospitals spread across the state”.
Under Phase 1, seven hospitals have been built at Dibrugarh, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Darrang, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, and Jorhat, while three are under construction. Phase 2 will witness hospitals in Dhubri, Nalbari, Goalpara, Nagaon, Sivasagar, Tinsukia and Golaghat.
Ratan Tata, Tata Trusts chairman, who was present at the inauguration, said it was an “important day in the history of Assam”. “Higher level healthcare facility for cancer treatment which was earlier not available in the state is being brought here. Cancer is not a rich man’s disease,” he said.
Chief Minister Sarma said it was a dream come true for Assam. “We are now providing the largest cancer care treatment network of its kind in South Asia. This is a huge milestone for us,” he said.
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