Assam health minister and the BJP’s star north east strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma has drawn criticism from his former colleagues in the Congress for linking accidents and life-threatening diseases like cancer to “sin… past life…and divine justice.”
Sarma, 48, was addressing school teachers at a government function in Guwahati on when he talked about good and bad karma and said in Assamese, “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 their background you will come to know that it’s divine justice. Nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice.” He also said, “In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother perhaps that young man did not do anything, but his father has done something wrong… no one can escape divine justice.” The minister, who is a law graduate and has a PhD, was advising the teachers to “work hard and be honest,” after distributing appointment letters to them. Congress lawmaker and leader of the opposition in the Assam assembly, Debabrata Saikia said the minister’s comments were insensitive. “His statement has hurt cancer patients. This reflects his mentality,” Saikia told reporters.