Guwahati: 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.
The comments sparked sharp reactions in the political circles and among cancer patients. Congress leader P Chidambaram denounced Sarma’s comments and said “that is what switching parties does to a person”.
'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
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."
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)