GUWAHATI, November 24, 2017: Facing criticism nationwide for calling cancer a result of past sins, Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday issued an unconditional apology for his statements.
“I reiterate that at no point was my statement intended to cause any pain to cancer patients. However, if owing to blatant distortions, it has caused any anxiety and problems to anyone, I hereby offer my unconditional apology for the pain,” the minister said in a statement.
At a public event addressing school teachers, Sarma was quoted as saying, “God makes us suffer when we sin. Sometimes we come across young men getting inflicted with cancer or young men meeting with accidents. If you observe the background you will come to know that it’s divine justice. Nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice.”
The statement immediately led to severe backlash, with a large part of the controversy playing out on Twitter. Former Union home minister P Chidambaram tweeted, “‘Cancer is divine justice for sins’ says Assam Minister Sharma. That is what switching parties does to a person.”
Sarma shot back, “Sir, please do not distort. Simply I said that Hinduism believe in karmic law and human sufferings are linked to karmic deficiency of past life. Don’t you belief that too? Of course in your party I do not know whether Hindu philosophy can be discussed at all.”