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No Fear No Favour

For this Health Minister of Assam, cancer is caused by sins; Draws heavy criticsm

Getting under the firing line for his remark saying that a person’s sins accumulate to cause cancer, Assam Health Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma is drawing criticism to brushing-off his accountability.

The Opposition, too, targeted the Bhartiya Janata Party leader of airing “karmic views” to “cover up his failures in the health sector”.

While addressing the group of newly appointed teachers on Tuesday, Sarma said, “It is a sin to shirk responsibilities. No one can go unpunished in God’s court if a member of his or her family does some justice. Some people suffer from cancer, some die in accidents. This is all because of sins.”

He was referring to a section of teachers in state government schools notorious for bunking classes.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a party that bats for minorities, said such statement doesn’t suit on the minister in this age of science and technology.

“Sarma introduced anti-tobacco laws a few years ago primarily to combat cancer. His philosophical interpretation now will hurt cancer patients more than anyone else,” said AIUDF spokesperson Aminul Islam.

It is perhaps his failure to improve the health sector in the state,” he added.

Former leader P Chidambaram too denounced Sarma, saying “That is what switching parties does to a person”, news agency PTI reported.

Sarma switched his loyalties to BJP from Congress last year ahead of the assembly elections which the BJP won.

Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia, the leader of the opposition in the state’s 126-member assembly, too criticised Sarma for his “karmic conclusion”.

The minister stood by his views. “I have nothing to say if anyone compares science with philosophical views. Karma is the basis of Hindu philosophy, and I cannot change this. As a Hindu, I will adhere to it. My father must have committed sin too because he died of cancer,” Sarma said over WhatsApp on Wednesday.

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