Families of bar fire victims await compensation

Families of bar fire victims await compensation

An official inspects the damage caused by the deadly fire in Kailash Bar and Restaurant, Kalasipalyam, on January 8, 2018. DH FILE PHOTO

The families of five men who died in a fire accident in a bar in central Bengaluru on January 8, 2018, are running from pillar to post to get the promised compensation. 

Five staffers — Prasad (20), Rangaswamy (23), both from Gubbi, Mahesh (35), of Channarayapatna, H S Manjunath (45), from Hassan, and Keerthi (24), from Mandya, had choked to death in the fire at Kailash Bar and Restaurant in Kalasipalyam. 

K J George, the then Bengaluru Development Minister, had announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of each victim. But even five after months, the government hasn't released a single penny. The delay has hit the families hard as all the victims were the lone breadwinners. 

Mahesh's brother Ganesh said the family had been forced to approach one officer or the two to get the compensation. "The BBMP is asking for the bar's licence number. We met the chief minister at the Janata Darshan but received nothing more than an assurance," he added. 

During the post-mortem, the families protested near the Victoria Hospital and demanded that the bar owner be arrested for negligence. "Ramalinga Reddy, the then home minister, George, local MLA B Z Zameer Ahmad Khan and Mayor R Sampath Raj came to the hospital and announced the compensation and forced us to take the bodies," Ganesh said. "We have now realised their promises were just an eyewash." 

Kumar, a relative of Prasad, accused the officials of "behaving very rudely". 

Leelavathi, the wife of Manjunath, said they were not allowed to meet officials in the Vidhana Soudha and were instead asked to approach the BBMP. "My husband worked in the bar day and night for our daughter's marriage. He was a pillar of our family," she said. Relatives have come forward to help the family and are educating the couple's son, she added. 

Rangaswamy's relative K T Ramachandran said all the families had made a representation to the chief minister at the Janata Darshan but nothing happened.