In Kasauli, slain town and country planner Shail Bala’s colleagues still in shock

first_imgThe family of Shail Bala, who was allegedly killed at Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh while supervising the demolition of unauthorised constructions, says she “paid the price for her honesty.” Her colleagues are still in shock and continue the drive amid demands for better security. The incident has again spotlighted the non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions. “I am yet to recover from the shock of losing a colleague. Not just me but the entire staff members are in a state of fear. We are continuing the drive, but everyone is a little cautious now,” says Leela Shyam, a town planner with the Department of Town and Country Planning, Solan. “We have urged the administration to provide protection at our offices at Kasauli and Solan; otherwise, it will be difficult for us to do our duty…,” Mrs. Shyam says, pointing out that the drive has gathered pace. “We are trying to ensure that the Supreme Court’s order is implemented. Demolition is under way at all 13 sites. While government workers are at it at many sites, a few hoteliers have engaged their own workers to demolish illegal constructions.”An employee at the sub-divisional town planning office at Kasauli, who was part of Shail Bala’s team, said the killing instilled a sense of fear in employees. “I was in the team that harrowing day [May 1]. Vijay Singh, son of owner of the Narayani Guesthouse, was upset, but no one expected something of this magnitude would happen. I was carrying some documents with me and was far from Shail Bala when she headed to the guesthouse. The next thing I remember was watching her in a pool of blood. He [Vijay Singh] even pointed the gun at me, but ran away and disappeared in the forest,” he says. “ One police constable has been deputed to out office after the incident, and we are hopeful of better security.” Shail Bala’s octogenarian father J.D. Sharma says: “My daughter has paid the price for being an honest officer. She stood up to the powerful lobby of builders.” Her brother Madan Kant, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Mandi, says: “A day before the drive started, I spoke to her on the phone. She told me that the people she is dealing with were very aggressive.” “It is also a matter of probe that how these illegal constructions have been allowed over the years. Action should be taken against those guilty of promoting illegal constructions.” Mr. Kant reckons that the incident could have been prevented, had the administration taken precautionary measures. Sahil Bala’s son Piyush, a government medical officer, has expressed a similar view. Social activists in the hill town argue that the incident has again brought to the fore the non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions, which have grown under the successive governments in the State.“The incident has raised the larger question of non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions over the years in and around Kasauli,” says Rajeev Kaundal, an RTI activist.last_img

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