Woman town planner shot dead by Kasauli hotel owner during demolition drive ordered by SC
A Kasauli hotelier Vijay Singh shot dead Shail Bala Sharma, an assistant town planner of Solan district, when her team reached his premises on Tuesday afternoon to demolish illegal constructions as per the recent Supreme Court order.
Police said the 51-year-old woman was shot in the face and back and died on the spot. A Public Works Department (PWD) worker Gulab Singh was injured and was rushed to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, about 60 km away. The police have announced a reward of Rs one lakh for information on the absconding hotelier.
Four teams led by the town and country planning officers reached Kasauli on Tuesday to raze unauthorised constructions. When the team members, led by Sharma, entered Narayani Guest House, Vijay Singh asked them to keep off his property. However, the team began the demolition drive which drove the owner to open fire. He managed to flee despite the presence of five policemen. The accused is an employee of the Himachal Pradesh State electricity board limited (HPSEBL).
Himachal Police spokesperson, superintendent of police (SP) Khushal Sharma said, “A case has been registered at Dharampur police station. We have launched a hunt for Vijay Singh.”
Requesting anonymity, a senior officer in the Shimla-based town and country planning department, said, “The responsibility of protecting the department staff going on such duty is that of the police. The police have failed to protect our officer and have not arrested the guest house owner.”
On April 17, the Supreme Court gave hotel owners 15 days to demolish unauthorised constructions on their premises. They had also been told to deposit a fine of up to Rs 15 lakh each.
A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had observed that some hotels and resorts were supposed to construct only two-storeyed buildings, but six-storeyed ones had been built. “You just demolish it (unauthorised constructions). What is going on? You are admitting that you were supposed to make only two-storeyed buildings. There was a landslide in your premises and you did nothing. You are putting the life of people in danger. For what? Money,” the bench had observed.
The owners of hotels, resorts and guest houses in Kasauli had earlier approached the apex court challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to demolish or close down establishments extended without approval.