Gandhinagar, Mar 14 (PTI) The Congress today accused the BJP government in Gujarat of trying to shield jailed self- styled godman Asaram Bapu over the death of two children near his ashram around ten years back.

The opposition party said the government is trying to protect the controversial preacher by not tabling in the Assembly the report of a commission that probed the deaths, a charge denied by the ruling party.

The issue was raised during the Question Hour by Jignesh Mevani (Independent), who sought to know the reason behind the government’s decision to not make the Justice D K Trivedi Commission’s inquiry report public.

Cousins Dipesh Vaghela (10) and Abhishek Vaghela (11) went missing from Asaram’s Ahmedabad-based gurukul on July 3, 2008 under mysterious circumstances.

On July 5, 2008, their mutilated bodies were found in the riverbed near the ashram, following which the government constituted an inquiry commission under Justice (retd) D K Trivedi.

Mevani said though the panel submitted its report in 2013, it had not been made public till today.

Citing some sections in the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Mevani claimed the Act mandates that such reports should be made public within six months of receipt by the government.

In his reply, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said it is not mandatory to table a report in six months under the Act.

“The decision to table the report is still under consideration. As per a court order, it is not mandatory to table such reports in six months. That provision is directory, not mandatory in nature,” said Jadeja.

Niranjan Patel (Congress) sought to know if the government has violated the Act by not sharing the report’s findings.

Jadeja hit back and listed what he called many instances when the past Congress governments in Gujarat had not tabled such inquiry reports in the House.

“Past Congress governments had not tabled many such reports, including those related to the 1985 hooch tragedy and the 1986 reservation agitation.

“You also did not table the inquiry report about the Machchhu dam tragedy (1979). The Congress should know the reasons why these reports were not tabled,” said Jadeja.

When Punja Vansh (Congress) asked whether the BJP government was trying to hide something, Jadeja retaliated, saying the people of the country also want to “know about the attacks on Sikhs during the Congress regime in the past.” Countering the minister, Shailesh Parmar (Congress) alleged the government is trying to shield Asaram by not making the Trivedi Commission report public.

In his response, Jadeja said the land for the ashram near here was given to Asaram, who is now in jail in alleged rape cases, during the Congress rule in Gujarat.

The BJP minister alleged Congress leaders in the past used to queue up before the controversial religious figure to seek his blessings.

When Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani sought a clear answer whether the state wants to table the report in the House, Jadeja said the government “is not hiding anything and is ready to table the report after taking into consideration various aspects.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.