The Indian minister of health from the Assam state of the country is currently at the receiving end of backlash, after he reportedly said that cancer "is divine justice" resulting from "past sins of a person."
Speaking at a public event in Guwahati on Wednesday, Himanta Biswa Sarma among other things said people could also suffer the disease "because of the sins of their parents."
According to The Time of India, Mr. Sarma added that "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.”
The minister’s comments have sparked a social media war, with some suggesting that Mr. Sarma was finding excuses for his ineptitude at finding solution to the cancer epidemic in India.
The country’s Opposition parties have condemned his comments, saying they were "unfortunate" and he must apologise.
All India United Democratic Front also said Mr. Sarma’s comments were meant to "cover his failure to control the spread of cancer in the state".
However, attempts by the minister to clarify his statement on twitter rather infuriated the social media community more.
Cancer is prevalent in India and research by the country’s Council of Medical Research suggests that only 12.5 of patients seek timely medical attention due to lack of awareness about the disease.
The council has also forecast that new cancer cases will increase by 25% by the year, 2020.