The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of the killing of an assistant town planning officer during a court-ordered anti-encroachment drive in Himachal Pradesh’s Kasauli. The apex court directed the matter be placed before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra so that it can be assigned to an appropriate bench. Terming the incident as “extremely serious”, the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed that the Narayani guest house owner, Vijay Thakur, who allegedly fired at Assistant Town Planner Shail Bala Sharma, had committed a “brazen act of defiance of this court’s orders”. Noting that Sharma was in Kasauli to implement the court’s order, the bench said it might stop passing any order “if you are going to kill people”. The bench requested CJI Misra to list the matter for consideration tomorrow.
On Tuesday, Sharma was allegedly chased and shot dead by Thakur after an altercation between the two during a demolition drive against unauthorised structure in 13 hotels across the hill resort in Himachal. Eyewitnesses said that Thakur fired at least three bullets at her inside the Narayani guest house in Mandudhar on the Dharampur-Kasauli road at around 2.33 pm. Sharma was brought dead to the Dharampur government hospital. The accused is on the run. Police have announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to Thakur’s arrest.
READ | Woman officer heading SC-ordered demolition drive shot dead by hotel owner in Kasauli, accused on the run
A Public Works Department employee, Gulab Singh, who was clearing the hotel rooms earmarked for demolition was injured in the firing and is undergoing treatment in Chandigarh, police said. Officials said the demolition drive, which was being implemented in the area by four separate teams, has been put on hold following the incident. DGP Sita Ram Mardi visited the spot in the evening, said officials.
One of the eyewitnesses, Parwanoo Range Officer Shivender Pal Singh, said Thakur opened fire when Sharma and other officials entered the hotel to take stock of the demolition. “He fired two bullets inside the hotel. One of the PWD employees was injured. We immediately ran outside to save ourselves. He chased us and fired another bullet which hit the ATP, she fell down,” Singh said. Officials said Thakur obtained an arms licence in 2011, and possessed a revolver.