Heavy social media trolls on Health Minister’s karmic-deficiency remark
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has landed in a controversy for saying life threatening diseases such as cancer was “divine justice” for past sins.
His comment had stirred political slugfest and trolling in the social media which compelled him to come up with a statement stating he was quoted “out of context.”
"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 and nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice. In this lifetime or in our previous life or perhaps that young man could be suffering as a result of actions by his father or mother,” Sarma said at a function organised at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati for distribution of appointment letters to teachers."
Assam ranks third among all states in the country in the number of cases of oesophagal cancer in women. According to the most recent reports of Indian Medical Council released last year, Kamrup (Metro) district has the fourth highest cancer incidence rate among men in the country with 206 found affected in a sample of 1,00,000. The rate is the same among women in the district and was found to be third highest in the country. The district has also recorded the highest cases of gall bladder cancer in both men and women in the country.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram took a dig at Sarma on Twitter saying, “Cancer is divine justice for sins, says Assam Minister Sharma. That is what switching parties does to a person.”
Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, addressing Sarma said, “Sir, with due respect, laws of karma surely should not be used to explain cancer in today's day and age. This is not about Gita but about being more sensitive to the suffering.”
Several other eminent journalists and other political opponents of the BJP especially those who had lost relatives to cancer too made scathing attacks on Sarma for his remark.
Among many people whose sensibilities were hurt with the remark, a cancer survivor, Roopa Sarma, expressed her angst on Facebook thus: My friends, please hear me out. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My heart should be full of gratitude. It will be...after I take this load off my chest.
Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that - ‘Cancer Strikes Those Who Sin'.
What kind of rubbish he is talking about! I have heard that he has a Law degree and a PhD. And that he is a very corrupt man. Sarma may have some so called education but he’s absolutely ignorant and extremely insensitive. He has insulted all the cancer victims who have fought bravely and lost their battles, who are cancer survivors, who are still fighting this disease, and their caregivers and families.
I am a Breast Cancer Survivor myself and I refuse to take this kind of insult. On behalf of all my fellow ‘Pink Sisters’ and to honor all the cancer patients,
I say, “Shame on him”!
(Oh yeah, I know some pretty bad words that I have never used publicly. I could use a few right now. But I won’t be me then, isn’t it?)
Are you with me?
Sarma has reacted by replying to each of the tweets. A tweet posted on Thursday said, “I am pained at the unpleasant controversy created by people wanting to derive political mileage out of it. I tender my apology to all cancer patients and their families who may have been hurt by this. I am also issuing this statement to clear & reiterate my stand.
The statement that he issued detailed the efforts made by the government to ramp up the health infrastructure in the state. “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, financial scheme to help up to 2 Rs lakhs to cancer patients, one state-of-art cancer hospital in Guwahati with PET CT, banning chewing tobacco and now starting a grid of hospitals in across Assam are some of my humble contribution as health minister of Assam,” it said.