The scientific community in the country has drafted a letter asking Union minister Satyapal Singh (pictured above) to retract his statement claiming that Charles Darwin’s theory of man’s evolution is “scientifically wrong”.

“We, the scientists, science communicators and scientifically-oriented members of public, are deeply pained by your claim,” the letter, signed by 388 people and put up on the website, says. “It is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community. On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights.”

The letter, which will be sent to Singh, goes on to say that the minister’s statement was overly simplistic and misleading. “There is plentiful and undeniable scientific evidence to the fact that humans and the other great apes and monkeys had a common ancestor.”

The letter says the minister’s claim that the Vedas contain answers to all questions is exaggerated and “is an insult to the genuine research work on history of Indian scientific traditions”.

“When a minister working for the human resource development in the country makes such claims, it harms the scientific community’s efforts to propagate scientific thoughts and rationality through critical education and modern scientific research,” reads the letter. “It also diminishes the image of the country at the global level and reduces faith of the international historical research community in the genuine research by the Indian researchers.”

However, on Sunday, Singh stood by his remarks. “Darwin’s theory is being challenged the world over. Darwinism is a myth,” he told NDTV. “If I make a statement I cannot make it without basis. I am a man of science. I do not come from the arts background. I have completed my PhD in chemistry from Delhi University.”

BJP leader Ram Madhav had on Sunday tweeted in support of Singh and shared an article from a website called Evolution News. The publisher of the site is a US think-tank called the Discovery Institute, which runs a campaign to have US high schools teach anti-evolution theories.