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The top court called what happened “serious”, as the accused killed the town planner in broad daylight and still the police could not catch him.
The town planner, Shail Bala, was following an SC ruling when she ordered the demolition of illegal constructions in the hill town. Even as a team of the public works department (PWD) started pulling down a part of Narayani Guest House at Mando Matkanda, its owner Vijay Singh (51) fired three rounds, leaving Shail Bala dead and another officer seriously injured.
Singh disappeared into a nearby forest after the incident. Solan police have announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone giving information leading to his arrest.
Trouble started as soon as Bala and other officials reached Mando Matkanda near Dharampur to demolish unauthorised portions of the guesthouse. Singh and his mother, Narayani Devi (70), started resisting the officials and got into an argument with Bala. When the team did not listen to the duo, Singh fired at them.
“While Shail Bala was murdered, Gulab Singh, a PWD employee, was injured,” Shimla SP Khushal Sharma said. Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said the accused would be nabbed soon.
A report by the police said 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, Bala had already been shot and the accused had escaped, said Khushal Sharma, superintendent of police, Shimla.
The SC had directed the Himachal Pradesh government on April 17 to demolish unauthorised structures at several hotels in Kasauli. It rejected the appeal of hoteliers against a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order. In its order on May 30 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.