Demolition of 13 illegal constructions at hotels and resorts in the picturesque tourist resort of Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, where a woman town planner was shot dead by a hotel owner, continued on Thursday amidst high security an official said. Even two days after Assistant Town Planner Shaila Bala Sharma was shot dead during the Supreme Court-ordered demolition drive, police have failed to arrest the accused. “Special teams have been constituted to arrest the accused. A cash reward has been announced for providing information that lead to his arrest,” Superintendent of Police Mohit Chawla told reporters. He said there was possibility that accused Vijay Singh, who shot dead Sharma on Tuesday, might have fled to neighbouring Punjab after committing the crime.
“We are sure to nab him soon,” he added. After firing the shots, the accused, a Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited employee, disappeared into the forest nearby. Police officials said Singh shot dead the town planner when she insisted on executing the court’s order to demolish the illegal constructions in his Narayani Guest House. He allegedly fired three rounds, killing her on the spot. Labourer Gulab Singh received a gunshot injury in the abdomen. She was cremated at her native place in Mandi district on Wednesday.
The main opposition Congress has blamed the four-month-old Jai Ram Thakur-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. “Even after two days of the crime, the state has failed to fix responsibility on officials responsible for the lapses that led to the death of a government employee,” Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri told IANS. He said the entire top government machinery on the day of the crime was busy in a Chief Minister’s function in the district and deliberately ignored to provide sufficient security to prevent any untoward incident during the demolition drive.
A member of the demolition team told the police that policemen, who were unarmed, fled from the crime scene after the town planner was shot dead. The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of her killing when she had gone to supervise the demolition of unauthorised constructions. Chief Minister Thakur on Wednesday said a status report will be submitted in the apex court on Thursday.
“It’s a sad incident. We will submit a status report in the (Supreme Court) tomorrow,” Thakur told reporters in New Delhi. The Divisional Commissioner of Shimla would investigate the killing of the town planner, he added. The apex court on April 17 ordered the demolition of illegal constructions, saying the life of people cannot be endangered for making money. The court observed that the illegal constructions had put the city in danger, causing landslides, and ordered their demolition.