GUWAHATI: After his comment linking cancer to sins of past life triggered outrage, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said his views on divine justice were quoted out of context and hit out at the media.
While the minister justified his statements by quoting the teachings of Bhagvad Gita on Karmic action, he apologized to those who he said may have been hurt owing to the "blatant distortions" of his statement by the media.
"In their bid to trivialize and sensationalize, no one is looking at the content of my whole speech and intent," Sarma said in a statement.
"A philosophical discourse designed purely to help poor students is being misused and which in turn is causing avoidable anxiety among surviving cancer patients and their near ones.
"I still believe divine justice will catch up with each and every one for trying to cash in on someone else's pain to gain political mileage and cheap publicity.
"I reiterate that at no point my statement was intended to cause any pain to cancer patients. However, if owing to the blatant distortions, it has caused any anxiety and problems to anyone, I hereby offer my unconditional apology," he said.
"But the way a section of the national media, local media and few in Congress are playing the story, I am pained (it) will cause agony to cancer patients and their relatives.
"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 Rs 2 lakh to cancer patients, one state-of-art cancer hospital in Guwahati, banning chewing tobacco and now starting hospitals across Assam."
The Minister had drawn public ire by saying that young people who suffer from cancer or die in accidents must have committed sins in past life.
"I feel bad when I come to know about young people suffering from disease like cancer or young ones dying (in) accidents. However, those are results of sins committed in past life. God's justice always prevails and no one can escape it," he had stated.
"Detachment from life, Karmic action and rebirth are some of the core principles of Hindu philosophy... Western thought process can never dominate or dilute the spirit and eternal meaning of our philosophy," Sarma said in his statement on Thursday.