Cancer patients and their relatives said they were saddened by the minister's statement.
Opposition parties have described his comments as "unfortunate", and demanded a public apology.
State opposition party the All India United Democratic Front said Mr Sarma had made the statement to "cover his failure to control the spread of cancer in the state".
He had made the remark while speaking at a public event in Guwahati on Wednesday.
"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 Times of India quoted him as saying.
More about: #cancer