Hotelier arrested for murder of woman official executing SC order to demolish illegal constructions

According to the latest reports, the man accused of killing Kasauli Assistant Town Planner Shail Bala Sharma, who was shot dead while conducting a demolition drive in Himachal Pradesh, was arrested by the police in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.

Accused Vijay Kumar, the owner of Narayani guest house in Kasauli, fired two rounds in the air as employees began the demolition drive in Dharampur area following Supreme Court orders.A stray bullet hit Shail Bala Sharma, killing her on the spot and injuring a PWD employee, Gulab Singh. During interrogation, Singh has reportedly told the cops that he killed assistant town and country planner Shail Bala Sharma as she had refused to “accept a bribe and back down”. He was also agitated with the fact that his mother had “touched the officer’s feet” to spare their structure, but Bala refused to pay heed to their requests, stating that she was following orders of the Supreme Court.

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After the incident, Singh fled the spot and hid in the jungles for the rest of the day. Solan police had announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone giving information leading to his arrest.

Police later tracked him down to Mathura in a temple. Apparently, he changed his appearance to mislead the cops. He had also been using strangers’ phone and had been changing his location frequently to avoid detection, the police said.

The Supreme Court took suo moto cognisance of her killing, terming the incident as “extremely serious”. It lashed out at the Himachal Pradesh government for failing to ensure the safety of public servants discharging their duty.

A report of the police party on the spot says they were at an adjacent hotel overseeing demolition as they expected trouble there. They heard gunshots from Narayani Guest House. By the time they reached there, Shail Bala had already been shot and the accused had escaped,” said Khushal Sharma, superintendent of police, Shimla.

The Supreme Court had directed the Himachal Pradesh government on April 17 to demolish unauthorised structures of several hotels in Kasauli, rejecting the appeal of hoteliers against a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order. In its order on 30th May last year, the NGT had observed that the owner of Narayani Guest House had constructed a six-storey building while he had approval for only three storeys and a parking floor.

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