An Assistant Town Planner was shot dead by a hotelier in Kasauli town of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday during an anti-encroachment drive. The victim has been identified as Shail Bala and the accused as Vijay Singh. A worker of the Town Planning team, Gulab Singh, was injured in the firing. The injured has been shifted to PGI, Chandigarh.

The accused is the owner of Narayani Guest House property. The accused absconded after committing the crime. The bullet had hit the officer in the back and pierced through her chest. She was heading the team that had gone to launch the demolition drive against the guest house on the directions of the Supreme Court.

Also read | Kasauli Town Planner murder: SC slams Himachal govt for inadequate security

Urban Development and Town and Country Planning Minister Sarveen Chaudhary has expressed deep grief over the killing of Assistant Town Planner Shail Bala.

On April 17, the Supreme Court had ordered demolition of illegal constructions at several hotels and resorts in Kasauli, saying the life of people cannot be endangered for making money.

The apex court had observed that the illegal constructions had put the entire city in danger, causing landslides, and ordered the demolition of such constructions.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had also observed that some hotels and resorts were supposed to construct only two-storeyed buildings but six-storeyed ones existed there.

“You just demolish it (unauthorised constructions). What is going on? You are admitting that you were supposed to make only two-storeyed building. There was landslide in your premises and you did nothing. You are putting the life of people to danger. For what? Money,” the bench observed while hearing the plea filed by one of the hotels.

Owners of several hotels, resorts and guest houses in Kasauli had approached the apex court challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to demolish or close down several such establishments which were extended illegally without approvals.

During the hearing, an advocate, representing some of the hotels, admitted the existence of unauthorised constructions. “You demolish it. You are admitting that there are unauthorised constructions,” the bench observed and directed the authorities concerned to demolish it.

When one of the counsels referred to an apex court order in a matter related to Manali in Himachal Pradesh, the bench said, “either you demolish it (unauthorised constructions) or we will ask the authorities to demolish it. It is your choice. No instructions are needed. Let the authorities demolish it”.

Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, appearing for some of the hotel owners, raised some factual issues regarding the NGT order but the bench reasserted that the unauthorised constructions would have to be demolished.

The NGT, in its order, had directed demolition of temporary structures of several hotels including Bird’s View Resort, Hotel Pine View, Narayani Guest House, Hotel Neelgiri, Hotel Divshikha and AAA Guest House.

(With agency inputs)