Bengaluru, Jan 8 : Five employees of a bar-and-restaurant here died early on Monday as a blaze swept the premises leaving them no way of escape, police said. Two persons, including the establishment’s manager, have been arrested for alleged violation of safety norms.

Bengaluru blaze which claimed five lives (Photo : IANS)

“All the five men died when the Kailash Bar & Restaurant (in the city centre) caught fire around 2.30 a.m.,” Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police, West M.N. Anucheth told reporters here.

“We have registered a case of criminal negligence amounting to culpable homicide against bar owner R.V. Dayashankar, 58, who obtained the trade and liquor licences to run it,” he added.

Even as the bar owner was not traceable, his elder brother V.R.Prakash, 60, and manager Somashekar, 59 were arrested after police filed a case of criminal negligence amounting to culpable homicide under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), according to a police statement.

A case has also been registered against the building owner, the statement added.

“We have arrested Prakash, who has been running the bar along with his brother for the past two years, and Somashekar and are on the lookout to locate and arrest Dayashankar,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (West) Niranjan Urs told IANS here.

Karnataka Director General of Fire and Emergency Services M.N. Reddi said the victims died due to asphyxia than burns, as they suffocated in the absence of fresh air, ventilation and no exit door to escape.

“Preliminary inquiry revealed that prima facie the bar had no fire extinguisher or other fire precautionary measures like an exit door, ventilation, exhaust fans or an escape way,” Reddi told reporters after inspecting the spot.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and police have been directed to inspect all bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels and eateries across the city to check for safety norms, Reddi added.

The cause of the fire was, however, still unknown even 14 hours after it broke out. “Electrical short circuit is suspected to have sparked it,” said Anucheth.

Fire brigade personnel had retrieved the charred bodies of the victims after dousing the fire by 4 a.m and had later shifted them to the state-run Victoria Hospital for autopsy.

The victims were identified as Swami, 23, Prasad, 20, Mahesh, 35, Manjunath, 45, and Keerthi, 20.

Swami, Prasad, Mahesh were from Tumakuru,while Manjunath is from Hassan and Keerthi from Mandya.

State Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George and senior police and civic body officials visited the bar and inspected its gutted premises.

“The state government has decided to give Rs 5 lakh compensation to each of the victims’ bereaved families,” said George.

Admitting that commercial establishments should have two doors so that customers could rush out in case of fire, the Home Minister said Kailash Bar had one shutter door.

The fire in the pub occurred about 10 days after a fire incident in a rooftop pub claimed 14 lives in Mumbai on December 29.

Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj, who inspected the burnt bar, told reporters that he had ordered an inquiry to find out why the victims were sleeping in the premises after downing the shutters post 1 a.m.

The BBMP has raided several bars, restaurants, pubs and eateries here after the Mumbai pub blaze.

“We have been conducting raids since January 2 to check if fire safety norms were in place. We have also shut down 10 bars and served notices to many others,” said Raj.