The Justice (retired) D K Trivedi Commission that inquired into the 2008 mysterious deaths of two children studying in a gurukul run by Asaram ashram in Motera, Ahmedabad has concluded that it has found no evidence to suggest that controversial godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai performed black magic in the ashram, which was alleged to have caused the deaths.
The Commission also said it cannot rule out the possibility that the two boys had drowned in the Sabarmati, on the banks of which the ashram is located. The Commission also said that no organs had been removed from the bodies by anyone for black magic as alleged.
These findings and the commission’s recommendations to the Gujarat government to prevent such incidents in the future were made public after the Commission’s report was tabled in the State Assembly on Friday.
Cousins Dipesh (11) and Abhishek (10) from Ranip area of Ahmedabad, who were studying at the Asaram ashram gurukul, went missing on July 3, 2008 under mysterious circumstances. Their mutilated bodies were retrieved from a dry part of the Sabarmati riverbed, two days later, on July 5.
The incident had stirred a huge public unrest against Asaram, with allegations that the boys had fallen prey to black magic being practised in the ashram.
Following the unrest, the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi on July 21, 2008 appointed the one-member commission of retired Gujarat High Court judge D K Trivedi, to investigate the circumstances that led to the boys’ deaths and to recommend measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
The Commission submitted its report to the state government in August 2013.
Before that, on December 1, 2012, Asaram had deposed before the commission in a dramatic manner, arriving with a large posse of his followers. He said the case was a conspiracy by ‘foreign powers’ to malign him, his ashram and the Hindu religion’.
Presenting its observations, the Commission said that according to “conclusive” medical evidence “the possibility of death due to drowning cannot be ruled out, and no organs were removed” from the bodies of the boys.
Refuting the allegations that the boys had died during some black magic ritual at the ashram, Justice Trivedi said that although some witnesses who left the Ashram deposed “Asaramji, his son Narayan Sai and other sadhaks were performing Tantrik Vidhi, their evidence is hardly relevant for the present issue and none of the witnesses furnished any details about the death of Dipesh and Abhishek.”
The Commission also said that just because the bodies were found in mutilated condition, it cannot be concluded according to medical jurisprudence that black magic was the cause of death.
The Commission attributed the disappearance of Dipesh and Abhishek to negligence on the part of the ashram gurukul’s management, and said “such negligence is not at all tolerable”.
The Commission listed the instances of the ashram’s negligence, and said the ashram management should make an ex-gratia payment to the parents of Dipesh and Abhishek, and suggested that the parents use the fund to create scholarships for poor and needy children.
The Commission also gave a clean chit to local police who investigated the case, except for pointing out one lapse. The report said that the local police came to know about the bodies of the two boys being found from the Sabarmati riverbed on July 5 late evening but no record was available with police regarding who informed them about the bodies.
The commission’s recommendations
No children below 10 years should be admitted in hostel.
CCTV cameras to be installed in appropriate places in the building to keep track of visitors. The footage is to be checked by the gurukul’s rector at least once a week.
No permission should be granted to open a gurukul or school close to a river, sea or lake.