Yoga guru Ramdev on Sunday said he was "withdrawing" his comments in which he said more people died of modern medical treatment during the COVID-19 crisis than the coronavirus itself, triggering a massive controversy.
The retractment comes after a strongly worded letter by Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan made it clear to the Yoga guru that his remarks, that had sparked in outrage in the medical fraternity, were not acceptable.
"Received your letter Dr Harsh Vardhan. In that context and to end the whole controversy over the conflict of different treatments with regrets, I am withdrawing my statement," he tweeted, hours after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asked him to rescind the remarks.
However, a few minutes later, he also retweeted a post by a Twitter user that said: "Yoga and Ayurveda give us complete health. Modern medical science has limitations. It only gives symptomatic treatment whereas Yoga and Ayurveda gives systemic treatment."
Dr Vardhan had in his letter to Ramdev said, "The people of the country are very hurt with your remark on allopathic medicines. I have already told you about this feeling over the phone. Doctors and health workers are like Gods for the people of the country for whom they are fighting against the coronavirus risking their lives."
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the representative body for doctors in the country, has demanded a written apology for the statement that it said damaged the reputation of practitioners of allopathy and modern medicine when they are striving to save lives during the pandemic.
In a video that was widely shared on social media, Ramdev was heard saying at a recent event, "Lakhs of people have died because of allopathic medicines, far more than those who died because they did not get treatment or oxygen." He also called allopathy a "stupid science.”
Facing a backlash over the comments, Ramdev's Patanjali group initially said the video had been edited and the statement "taken out of context". Baba Ramdev had "no ill-will against modern science and good practitioners of modern medicine", the Patanjali statement said.
"It is necessary to mention that the event was a private event and Swami jee (Ramdev) was reading out a forwarded WhatsApp message received by him and various other members who were participating in the event… what is being attributed against him is false and nugatory," it added.