Bengaluru: Five burned, singed, suffocated to death

Shutters locked from inside, hinders rescue operation.

Bengaluru: In a tragic incident, five workers died after a fire broke out at a bar and restaurant at Kalasipalya Market in the early hours of Monday.

The deceased have been identified as Rangaswamy, 22, Jai Prasad, 20, and Mahesh, 35, all from Tumakuru, and Manjunath, 45, from Hassan, and Keerthi, 19, from Mandya. They were working as waiters and cleaners at Kailash Bar and Restaurant, situated on the ground floor of Kumbara Sangha building.

The fire broke out around 2.30 am when all the five were sleeping inside. Passersby noticed the fire and informed the Fire and Emergency Service personnel and Kalasipalya police, who rushed to the spot and doused the fire by 3.30 am. When they broke open the shutter and went inside looking for survivors, they found the five dead.

A senior police officer investigating the case said, “Inside the gutted bar, we found one person dead near the toilet and the others inside the toilet. We assume that they had run into the toilet to escape the fire. All the liquor bottles, cookery items, cash box and showcases have been destroyed in the fire.”

He said, “Preliminary investigations indicated that cause of the fire could be a short-circuit. But nothing can be ascertained till the reports arrive. There was a gas cylinder inside which was intact, but the inverter power supply unit was completely burnt. The bar was closed around 1.30 am and the workers had locked themselves inside the bar and gone to sleep when the fire broke out.”

Two of the deceased have sustained burns, while others do not have any injuries, indicating that they might have died due to asphyxiation. But nothing can be confirmed till the postmortem reports arrive, the police officer said.

City Police Commissioner T. Suneel Kumar, who visited the spot, said, “A detailed inquiry has been ordered and we cannot say anything about the cause of the fire till we get the reports. It is a small place with a single entry and exit point. No fire safety equipment were found inside the bar. Strict action will be taken against the owner for negligence. A team of five members has been formed to trace the accused, who are absconding.”

DCP (West) Anucheth told Deccan Chronicle, “A case under Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) has been registered against V.R. Dayashankar, licence holder, his brother V.R. Prakash, who ran the bar, Somashekar, manager of the bar, and the management of Kumbara Sanga. We have already arrested Prakash, Somashekar and the others will be caught soon.”

Single entry, exit for bar

Bengaluru: Kailash Bar and Restaurant, where five employees died after a major fire early on Monday morning, is situated on the ground floor of Kumbara Sangha building, which is a 50-year-old structure.

Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George on Monday said that the building did not have emergency exit and entry points. “The bar just had a single entry and exit. If there was another exit, some of them could have survived,” he said.
A top police officer said that the ground floor has been given out on rent to several shops, while the other floors have rooms to accommodate people coming to Kumbara Sangha from other parts of the state. The building also houses a small hostel for college-going students. “Fortunately, the fire stopped at the bar. If it had spread to the other floors, the causalities would have been much higher,” a police officer said.

Small hole in the shutter: When Deccan Chronicle spoke to a few local residents, they pointed to a rectangular hole in the shutter which was used to supply liquor after the stipulated time.
“They closed the bar at 1 am, but continued to sell liquor through that hole. The workers had been given a room on one of the floors, but they slept at the bar because the room was infested with bedbugs and mosquitoes. They used to sleep inside the bar as it helped them to get up early in the morning as the bar opened at 6 am,” the police officer said.

Labour law violation: Mayor Sampath Raj blamed the bar owner for the death of his employee. He said it is a violation of labour law as no one is allowed to sleep inside their workplace.

“The owner should have made necessary arrangements for the workers to stay and this also amounts to worker exploitation. The labour department should check across the city for such violations and we are sure that there will be plenty of them,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story