Centre keen on lifting AFSPA from northeast: PM Modi

Prime Minister said the Assam-Meghalaya boundary dispute template could help resolve differences between other States

Updated - April 28, 2022 10:57 pm IST

Published - April 28, 2022 01:52 pm IST - Guwahati

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the ‘Peace, Unity and Development’  at Loringthepi in Karbi Anglong district in Assam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the ‘Peace, Unity and Development’  at Loringthepi in Karbi Anglong district in Assam. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said efforts were on to improve the law-and-order situation for the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 to be completely lifted from the northeast.

Addressing a “Peace, Unity and Development” rally in central Assam’s Diphu, he said the AFSPA could be withdrawn (from April 1) partially from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland due to peaceful conditions since 2014. The Bodo Accord opened the doors for permanent peace, he added.

“The AFSPA remained enforced in many States of the northeast for decades. We removed it from many areas due to better administration and the return of peace with incidents of violence dropping by 75% in the last eight years. This is the reason that we first removed AFSPA from Tripura and then Meghalaya,” Mr. Modi said.

Crediting the steady return of peace in the northeast to the collective efforts of the State governments and the people, he said the Centre was trying to normalise the situation in the remaining areas for AFSPA to be removed.

“We are working at a faster pace in Nagaland and Manipur in this regard,” the Prime Minister said.

He underscored the Centre’s relentless efforts in helping solve the problem of insurgency in Assam’s Bodo areas and Karbi Anglong, in Tripura and the Bru (Reang) problem of Tripura-Mizoram. He said similar efforts were being made seriously for permanent peace in some other regions.

“The country can now see how the decades-old problem of violence and mistrust is being resolved. People would hear the sound of bombs and sometimes of bullets in the region. Today, we can hear the sounds of clapping,” Mr. Modi said.

The Prime Minister expressed happiness that Assam and Meghalaya were trying to resolve their boundary disputes. He said the efforts of the two States would be a template for resolving interstate differences elsewhere in the region and provide impetus to the developmental aspirations of the people.

Cancer care hub

Laying the foundation stone for 2,950 Amrit Sarovar [water conservation] projects across Assam and three regional colleges worth a total of ₹1,650-crore, Mr. Modi claimed difficulties have been reducing and fast-tracked development taking place in the northeast since 2014.

He noted the coincidence of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the 400th anniversary of Lachit Borphukan, the 17th century Ahom general who stopped the Mughals from capturing Assam. “The life of this great son of Assam inspires patriotism and strength across India,” he said.

Later at Dibrugarh, about 300 km east of Diphu, the Prime Minister inaugurated seven advanced cancer hospitals under the Assam Cancer Care Foundation, a collaboration between the Assam government and Tata Trusts. There will be 17 such centres across Assam, strategically located to serve patients from the other north-eastern States and neighbouring countries such as Bhutan.

The Prime Minister also laid the foundation of seven other such hospitals.

The seven hospitals inaugurated are at Dibrugarh, Barpeta, Tezpur, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar and Darrang.

“Given the high incidence of cancer in the northeast and the cost involved in treatment, we want Assam to become the hub of cancer care in South Asia,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

A Tata Trust spokesperson said up to 50,000 cancer patients can get inexpensive treatment when all the 17 hospitals are in operation. The network of such hospitals under the distributed cancer control model has a four-level step down system offering early detection and diagnosis besides treatment.

According to a government study in 2021, the northeast is the “cancer capital” of India with Arunachal Pradesh’s Papum Pare district and Mizoram’s Aizawl district recording the highest incidence of new cases among females and males respectively.

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