Shimla/Kasauli, May 4 (IANS) A court in Kasauli of Himachal Pradesh on Friday sent a hotelier to a five-day police remand for allegedly shooting down a woman town planner executing a Supreme Court-ordered demolition drive.
“Accused Vijay Singh was taken to the crime spot and the licensed pistol he had used to commit the crime has also been recovered,” acting Superintendent of Police Shiv Kumar told reporters.
The accused was arrested from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday evening — two days after the crime.
On May 1, Assistant Town Planner Shaila Bala Sharma, 51, was shot dead by Narayani Guest House owner Vijay Singh during the demolition drive in Kasauli town in Solan district.
Police officials said the accused, who was not using his mobile phone since the murder, had shaved off his moustache to conceal his identity. He was using mobile of strangers to establish contact with his family.
Vijay Singh shot dead the official when she insisted on executing the apex court order to demolish illegal constructions at his guest house.
After shooting the official, Vijay Singh, a Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board employee who was on leave for three weeks, disappeared into a nearby forest from where he managed to flee in the night.
Admitting negligence on the first day of demolition of 13 illegal constructions at hotels and resorts, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said: “There should be adequate deployment of police at the demolition site. The police at the time of crime was stationed in a nearby hotel.”
“We have submitted a status report in the Supreme Court. Another status report will be submitted in the court on May 9 (the next date of hearing),” Thakur told reporters in Shimla.
But the demolitions would continue, he added.
Earlier, Thakur said illegal constructions in Kasauli and other areas were carried out during the previous Congress government in the state.
On Thursday, the apex court ordered the Himachal government to file an affidavit by May 9, detailing the progress in the murder probe.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur said the affidavit should contain details of action taken to demolish illegal constructions and steps to prevent unauthorised constructions in future.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the official’s killing, the Supreme Court had on Wednesday pulled up the state authorities for failure to ensure the safety of officers implementing its orders.
The apex court had on April 17 ordered the demolition of illegal constructions, saying the life of people could not be endangered for making money.
After the apex court rap over negligence in handling of the demolitions, the government transferred Solan Superintendent of Police Mohit Chawla and his deputy Ramesh Sharma to police headquarters.
Additional Superintendent of Police Shiv Kumar was given the additional charge of the Superintendent of Police, while Ajay Rana has been made the new Deputy Superintendent of Police.
The government also decided to confer Himachal Gaurav Purskar on the deceased town planner and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to her family who would be entitled for salary for her remaining service period.