CM admits to lapses in executing Kasauli demolition drive

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday admitted to lapses in the execution of a court-ordered demolition drive that led to the killing of an assistant town planner.

“The government has taken all possible steps after the firing. The accused has been arrested, ex-gratia grant of Rs. 5 lakh has been announced for the family of the woman officer and her family would get full salary as drawn by her for the remaining period of service. A status report will be submitted in the Supreme Court on May 9,” he said during an informal chat with a group of media persons.

The top court criticised the state government for not providing adequate security to the officials, to which Thakur accused the police of callousness in handling the incident. The chief minister said the police personnel at the site did not act promptly enough. “Their callousness gave the culprit a chance to flee from the scene of the crime,” he told reporters.

He concluded by saying that, “Moreover, the police did not take adequate precautionary measures before initiating the demolition drive. I regret [the] killing. They should have ensured that there was no weapon in the building. I admit that whatsoever happened in Kasauli should not have occurred. The government will ensure that the orders of any court whether state, apex or the National Green Tribunal are implemented effectively.”

Shail Bala Sharma, an assistant town and country planner, was shot dead on Tuesday. The accused hotelier, Vijay Singh Thakur, was arrested from Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.

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