The Justice D K Trivedi Commission which probed the death of two children who studied at a residential school run by controversial godman Asaram in Ahmedabad in July 2008 has given a clean chit to him and his son Narayan Sai.
The commission’s report, submitted to the Gujarat government way back in 2013, was tabled in the Assembly on Friday, almost six years later. The commission, however, held that school authorities had been negligent.
On July 5, 2008, decomposed bodies of cousins Dipesh Vaghela (10) and Abhishek Vaghela (11), studying at Asaram’s ‘Gurukul’ (residential school) in Motera area of Ahmedabad, were found on the bank of the Sabarmati river.
The children had gone missing from the school’s hostel two days earlier. Asaram’s ‘ashram’, which housed the school and hostel, is situated along the riverbank. "There is no evidence to suggest that in the ashram, Asaram-ji and his son Narayan Sai performed Tantrik Vidhi (black magic rituals)," the report said.
"The management of the gurukul as well as ashram authorities are custodians and guardians of the children who are staying in gurukul hostel and it is their duty to look after the children," it said. "From the perusal of the evidence, the commission is of the view that the same is lacking by the management of the gurukul," the report added.
Parents had alleged that Asaram and his son performed black magic rituals on the two children, causing their death. "Missing of Dipesh and Abhishek, from the ashram campus from 3-7-2008 in the late evening is due to the negligence of the management and according to the commission such negligence is not at all tolerable," the report said.
The medical evidence was conclusive and the possibility of death due to drowning cannot be ruled out, the commission said. It also noted that no organs were missing from the two bodies. It was speculated earlier that some organs had been removed.
Following a violent agitation demanding action against Asaram over the deaths, the state government set up a probe panel headed by Justice Trivedi, a retired high court judge, in July 2008.
In December 2012, after evading summons many times, Asaram deposed before the commission. He termed the allegations against him as a “conspiracy” to malign his ashram and the "Hindu religion". Opposition Congress as well as family members of the two children had demanded many times that the commission’s report be tabled in the House.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID-crime) of Gujarat Police also probed the case and filed a charge sheet against seven persons in 2013. The case is still pending before a court.
Asaram is presently serving life term in a sexual assault case, and is lodged in a Jodhpur jail. He is also facing trial in another sexual assault case in Ahmedabad. His son Narayan Sai was convicted for rape by a Surat court and is serving life imprisonment.