Assam Health Min ‘Sorry’ for Cancer Remark, Says He Was Misquoted

After Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma kicked up a storm with his remarks that some people suffer from life-threatening diseases such as cancer because of sins committed in the past, which he called "divine justice,” he said that his statement was taken out of context.

He said that his statement was made in the context of helping poor students in government schools who should not be neglected.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Health Minister, to ANI I lost my father, best friends, and relatives to cancer. And everyone in Assam and outside know my passion to work on containing cancer through best possible cancer treatment facilities, including free chemotherapy and a financial scheme cancer patients up to Rs 2 lakh.

He said that his words were not to cause pain to cancer patients and their families, and offered an unconditional apology for his remarks.

However, he still supported his karmic justice theory and stated that the western thought process cannot dominate the 5,000-year-old Hindu philosophy.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Health Minister, to ANISo many oncologists in TV studio are citing reason for cancer. But why it is happening to certain individuals and not to others in spite of living under the same environment? Science has not been able to give answer to many of our perennial queries, and, therefore, at our last moment, we are asked to pray to god.

This is what he said on Wednesday, 22 November:

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 comments sparked sharp reactions in the political circles and among cancer patients.

Sarma gave his two cents on cancer while at a function organised for distribution of appointment letters to teachers in Guwahati on 22 November, Tuesday.

In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother... perhaps that young man did not do [sic] but his father has done something wrong. It is mentioned even in Gita, Bible about the outcome of one’s actions. No point in being sad... all will get the outcome of this life’s actions in this life only. Nobody can escape the divine justice that will happen.“That is What Switching Parties Does to a Person”: P Chidambaram

Sarma’s remarks created a furore and many from the political circle slammed him for his insensitivity.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram took a dig at Sarma on Twitter.

Sarma switched from Congress to BJP in 2015.

Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly Debabratta Saikia asked Sarma to apologise to all cancer patients.

Debabratta Saikia It is unfortunate that the health minister has made such a remark on cancer patients, hurting their feelings. As he has made the remark publicly, the minister should also apologise for it publicly.Sarma’s Clarification

On Wednesday, Sarma clarified that he had only said “Hinduism believes in karmic law, and human sufferings are linked to karmic deficiencies of past lives”.

Incidentally, Sarma also tweeted in 2010 that his father had cancer.

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

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