People suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer is "divine justice" for sins committed in the past, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said, drawing flak from different sections.
"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," Sarma was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The BJP leader, who has jumped ship from the Congress ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections, said these "outcomes of one's actions" are also mentioned in the scriptures.
"In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother... perhaps that young man did not do 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. That divine justice always will be there. Nobody can escape the divine justice that will happen," he said.
Needless to say, his remarks have met with severe criticism on social media as many including doctors showed disappointment in him.
This man is a state health minister in India. Dear God. https://t.co/5oPjFlwDB7— Stanley Pignal (@spignal) November 23, 2017
Move over pollutants, toxic foods, spurious medicines etc @himantabiswa feels it's your past sins causing that cancer! Call a priest to do a yagna to propitiate the Gods, not a doctor— Sunil Jain (@thesuniljain) November 22, 2017
This "blame the victim" nonsense has GOT to stophttps://t.co/3EMQiHo2BH— Siddhartha Mukherjee (@DrSidMukherjee) November 22, 2017
Stop blaming Hinduism for all your stupidities , you are a disgrace to science and religion both. https://t.co/KMTS5TVWMn— Rofl Gandhi (@RoflGandhi_) November 22, 2017
Dear @himantabiswa I am theist but I do believe in science also as per #Science Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis, and when this process breaks down, cancer begins to form. pic.twitter.com/8gIjTLXbwX— Simmi Ahuja (@SimmiAhuja_) November 23, 2017
He is also the HEALTH as well as Education minister of Assam. Really feel sorry for the Assamese people.— Dev Sun (@Liberalpoltic) November 22, 2017
What about childhood cancers @himantabiswa sir? Would you attribute these to sins of previous birth? Shame on you. I think you are a doctor. Your degree should be taken away with immediate effect.— Dr. AMARENDRA (@Doc_Amarendra) November 22, 2017
One day when his family members may suffer, will he speak words?— hariom sharma (@h_sharma22) November 22, 2017
Forget sins, @himantabiswa surely has lost his senses. No wonder, with this sort of intelligence he envies dogs.— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) November 23, 2017
Himanta doesn't deserve to continue as a Health Minister as he washes his hands off the health care responsibilities by offering nonsensical theories. Such a lunatic! https://t.co/vx55O8Ld0G
wow...now we know why we are one of the most prevalent in head and neck cancer and let's throw in diabetes as well. we sure do have v. bad karma don't we ! https://t.co/sOUHO0FJXQ— Ekta Batra (@ekta_batra) November 23, 2017
Sarma replied to Chidambaram tweeting,"Go through my speech. I never said that sin cause cancer. It was a speech to motivate teacher. serve poor or otherwise you may face karmic deficiency and suffer in next life. science can not promote human value. religion might."
'Cancer is divine justice for sins' says Assam Minister Sharma. That is what switching parties does to a person.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 22, 2017
"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," he wrote.
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 https://t.co/P7CMBIRCYQ— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
His explanation angered many more.
Aghast to see that even in 21stCentury,a State Cabinet Minister defies all medical science & asks masses to believe that Cancer is not caused by biological disorder but by Karma or Sin (Papam)— Radhika Khera (@Radhika_Khera) November 23, 2017
Mr @himantabiswa Do you also believe our Lunar/Solar or Celestial Misisons are all SIN? https://t.co/9YX1vmJvR4
Responding to "Pumpkin of the day" remark by Rajdeep Sardesai, Sarma wrote, "Do not belittle Hindu philosophy in such simplistic way. If you call me anytime to your studio,I will argue with you that karmic law do exist. You can not written of teachings of Bhagavadgita by using the word pumpkin of the day etc"
Do not belittle Hindu philosophy in such simplistic way. If you call me anytime to your studio,I will argue with you that karmic law do exist. You can not written of teachings of Bhagavadgita by using the word pumpkin of the day etc https://t.co/wpKz7rpLYn— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
AIUDF leader Aminul Islam asserted that the health minister made this remark to cover his failure to control the spread of cancer in the state.
"He has given up, he can't control," he said. Some cancer patients said they were saddened by the health minister's remarks at a time when it is an established medical fact that there are scientific reasons and various other parameters responsible for the disease.
State-run Dr B Barooah Cancer Institute's Medical Superintendent Dr B B Borthakur sought to downplay Sarma's remarks.
"I don't think the minister made the remark on scientific basis but in a social context as I understand. I don't think it is a matter to be made into a controversy. It is not a matter to be given so much importance," he said.
(With PTI inputs)