PM Narendra Modi | Photo: PTI
Diphu/Dibrugarh/Guwahati (Assam): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday while speaking at a rally at Diphu, 250 kms east of Guwahati, said efforts are on to remove AFSPA completely from the northeast region.
Later, addressing a rally at Dibrugarh in Assam after inaugurating seven cancer care centres and laying the foundation stone for seven others across the state, Modi said that he does not want anyone to fall ill but if they do, “we have built hospitals for them to get the best treatment without any financial burden.”
Addressing a 'Peace, Unity and Development' rally, he said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act could be withdrawn from various parts of the region as the law and order situation has improved in the last eight years.
"As the (law and order) situation improved with 75 per cent decrease in violence in the region, there have been changes in the imposition of laws. The AFSPA was first revoked in Tripura and then in Meghalaya," he said.
The previous governments in Assam in the last three decades had extended it again and again as there was no improvement in the law and order situation, Modi said.
"Due to the proper control of the situation in the last eight years, the AFSPA has been removed from most parts of the state. We are trying to withdraw it from the remaining parts too.
"The Act is applicable in some areas of Nagaland and Manipur, and we are working speedily to revoke it completely," he said.
Earlier this year, the Centre had announced reduction of the disturbed areas imposed under the AFSPA in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur from April 1.
Prime Minister Modi also said the effect of the BJP's "double engine" government is evident in the return of permanent peace and speedy development in Assam.
The term "double engine" is used by BJP leaders to refer to the party being in power at the Centre as well as in a state.
The government has entered into peace agreements in Assam's Karbi Anglong and in Tripura, while efforts are on to ensure permanent peace and speedy development in the entire region, he said.
"Several outfits of Karbi Anglong returned to the mainstream to march forward in the path of peace and development. The Bodo Agreement in 2020 paved the way for peace in the region and in Tripura, the NLFT also came forward for the peace, while the two-and-a-half decade long Bru-Reang issue was resolved," he said.
Permanent peace returned to the region, and speedy development in the northeastern states was ensured due to a collective effort of the Centre and the state governments, Modi said.
He stated that this process is "on and will continue in the future."
"Earlier, the northeast was known for bomb blasts and violence and the worst sufferers were our mothers, sisters and children. Now as I see the smile on their faces when the youths have given up their arms, I feel God is showering blessings on me," the Prime Minister said.
The Centre has always tried to resolve difficulties of people in Karbi Anglong and other tribal areas with the policy of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas' (with everybody, for everyone's development and with everyone's belief), he said.
Besides, efforts have been made to solve border disputes among states in the region in a cordial manner, he said.
The recent boundary agreement between Meghalaya and Assam will encourage the others to resolve the issues and help them march forward, he said.
The prime minister also laid the foundation stone for colleges of veterinary science and agriculture and a model government college in Karbi Anglong and also launched 2,985 'Amrit Sarovar' projects across Assam.
The Rs 1000-crore projects for Karbi Anglong will give new opportunities to youths, particularly those who have returned to the mainstream to participate in the nation-building process, the PM said.
"These foundations are not just that of any building or institution but are the foundations for the bright future of the youths of Karbi Anglong," he said.
Speaking on 'Amrit Sarovars' in the state, as a part of the Azadi ke Amrit Utsav to commemorate 75th anniversary of India's Independence, the prime minister said he had started this in Jammu and Kashmir last week, and in Assam, "these facilities will not only be a source of water but also of income generation".
Later, addressing a rally after dedicating seven cancer care centres and laying the foundation of an equal number in Dibrugarh, the Prime Minister said that the government is committed to further strengthen the health infrastructure and facilities to provide the best and the cheapest treatment to the ill, particularly those suffering from cancer.
He said that he does not want anyone to fall ill but if they do, ''we have built hospitals for them to get the best treatment without any financial burden''.
There was a time when setting up one hospital in seven years was a big achievement but times have changed with seven cancer hospitals inaugurated on the same day while three more will be ready in the next few months, he said.
''Hospitals are necessary and the government is setting these up, but I pray for the good health of all and do not want anybody to go there. If hospitals are empty, I will be happy but if people fall ill, they can go there without any hesitation and get the best treatment'', Modi said.
Cancer is detected in large numbers not only in Assam but the entire North East and the worst affected are the poor and the middle class. Earlier, people had to go outside the state for treatment and this resulted in a huge financial burden for them, he said.
During the last five to six years, the former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, present Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata have taken the initiative to set up the Assam Cancer Care Foundation to provide cheap and effective treatment to cancer patients, Modi said.
''This is a great service to humanity and I thank them for taking this initiative'', he added.
The Prime Minister said that the centre has also focused on cancer treatment in the Rs 1500 crore Special package earmarked for the North East in this year's Union budget as this serious disease weakens the economic condition of the cancer patients family with many forced to take loans.
Medicines will be made available to cancer patients at half the price under the 'Jan Aushadi' scheme and make 900 medicines available at a lower rate.
Meanwhile, AAP, a new entrant to Assam politics, staged state-wide demonstrations against price rise coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the northeastern state.
Police detained several AAP members who were protesting in Guwahati, while demonstrations were also staged in Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Dhubri and Tinsukia. PTI