Kasauli shooting: Police say official entered hotel without telling team leader
Assistant town planner Shail Bala Sharma who was allegedly shot dead by a guest house owner during a demolition drive in Kasauli last week, entered the premises without informing the team leader, says a status report by the Himachal Pradesh police.
But the report, which HT accessed on Thursday, two days after the murder, mentioned only the number of police personnel assisting the drive, skipping any mention of whether or not they were armed.
Senior police officers refused to take calls for queries on whether armed policemen were deployed for the escorting the team of town planners when they started the demolition drive.
Shail Bala Sharma was the coordinator of one of the four teams constituted by the Kasauli district chief to carry out the demolition on the Supreme Court’s orders
Vijay Singh, owner of Narayani Guest House who fled after shooting Sharma was finally arrested on Thursday in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
In the three-page status report, police said that for demolition of unauthorised hotels following orders of the Supreme Court, sub-divisional officer of Solan was deployed as in-charge for law and order, while sub-divisional police officer (SDPO), Parwanoo, was the nodal officer.
“The demolition process was being carried out peacefully but in the meantime, after lunch break, Shail Bala, assistant town planner, also co-ordinator of team 1 headed by Jagpal Singh, naib tehsildar, entered the premises of Narayani Guest house along with Shavinder Pal Singh, range officer, forest department, and labourer(s) without intimating the head of the team constituted for the purpose,” the report, submitted to the government, read.
Soon after, the firing took place and members of a team in the adjoining Hotel Shivalik rushed to the spot and noticed Shail Bala lying on the floor and a labourer, Gulab Singh, had also sustained a bullet injury, it added. SDPO Ramesh Sharma directed team members to follow hotel owner Vijay Singh who fired with his pistol, the report said.
It also mentioned that before the murder, Vijay Singh had threatened to kill himself if the demolition was carried out. The adjoining Hotel Shivalik’s owner too had “created nuisance” and threatened cops with “dire consequences”.
SDPO Ramesh Sharma rushed to that hotel to take stock of the situation, said the report. “Detention of the owner was ordered but his relatives present on the spot gave assurance to calm him down,” the report said, adding that the owner later calmed down and the demolition was started.
“After that, during the interaction of this team with the owner of Narayani Guest House, the owner contested the demolition process with arguments that only one floor of his guest house was illegal. He also requested the team not to demolish the additional floor of his guest house but to allow him to do the same himself within a period of two days... He threatened the team that he would commit suicide if his appeal was not admitted,” said the report. It added that the SDPO gave directions to station house officer, Dharampur police, to round him up to avoid any untoward incident.
A total of four teams were constituted for demolition of illegal structures in hotels in Kasauli, and 31 police personnel were deployed at different sites close to each other, the report said. Besides the police, six Home Guards volunteers were present too.