An assistant town planner was shot dead by a guesthouse owner during a Supreme Court-ordered demolition drive in Himachal Pradesh's Kasauli. The drive was to demolish all illegal constructions in the town that were deemed unsafe for tourists. As a team of Public Works Department (PWD) officials started demolishing parts of Narayani Guest House at Mando Matkanda, the owner Vijay Singh, 51, fired three shots, killing Shail Bala and injuring another PWD employee.
After firing the shots, Singh disappeared into the nearby forest. Solan police have announced a bounty of Rs 1 lakh on Singh.
As mentioned in a report in Times of India, Singh and his mother Narayani Devi, 70, started resisting the team of officers who were there to demolish unauthorised parts of the guest house. They even got into an argument with the woman officer. When they could not get their way, Singh fired at them. Shimla SP Khushal Sharma said, "While Shail Bala was murdered, Gulab Singh, a PWD employee, was injured."
#HimachalPradesh Police announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone who provides information about the absconding accused who shot dead Assistant Town and Country Planning officer in Solan's Dharampur pic.twitter.com/2P6zWz8QGU- ANI (@ANI) May 1, 2018
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has assured that the accused would be nabbed soon.
A police report says that they were at an adjacent hotel overseeing the demolition as they had expected trouble there. They heard gunshots from Narayani Guest House and by the time they reached, Shail Bala was already dead.
The Supreme Court said that this was a 'serious issue' and that it would take up the case tomorrow.
Assistant Town Planner Shail Bala Sharma heading SC-ordered demolition drive shot dead in Kasauli(HP) matter: Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognizance of the incident. SC also rapped State Govt for not providing adequate security to the woman official. pic.twitter.com/Dnde23vqkd- ANI (@ANI) May 2, 2018
"We might stop passing any order if you are going to kill people," the judges said. They also asked what the police were doing and why couldn't they act on this. Around 160 policemen had accompanied the team of officials for the demolition drive.
The apex court on April 17 had ordered the Himachal Pradesh government to pull down unauthorised constructions of several hotels, including Narayani Guest House. The guest house was a six storey building but had permission for only three and a parking floor.