Three labourers were asphyxiated to death after a hosiery factory caught fire in the Ganeshpuri area of Shivpuri on Monday, though one of the labourers managed to escape.
The labourers found no place to escape as the factory owner had gone back to home after locking the unit from outside. The police recovered their bodies on the first floor.
The deceased have been identified as Sunder Lal (40) of Kali Sarak, Raju (30) of Shivpuri area and Suraj (35) of Ghumar Mandi. The labourer who managed to escape is Ramesh Kumar, who is labour contractor.
All four victims were embroidery artists at Kiratvir Outfits. They have come to the factory around 6.30am. The factory owner and his son had locked the factory from outside so that the labourers could not steal material and went to their home.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out in the factory around 7.30am. When they saw smoke emanating from the factory, they alerted the police and fire brigade.
The fire brigade reached at the spot and took two hours to douse the flames. Four fire tenders were pressed in for the job.
Arun Kumar, an eyewitness, said the labourers who were trapped inside the factory were shouting for help. People tried to break open the locks, but to no avail.
The Salem Tabri police arrested factory owner Surinder Singh of Ghumar Mandi after registering a case under section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian penal code.
Station house officer Maninder Bedi said the bodies were not charred. “It has been suspected that the labourers were asphyxiated to death due to smoke. They might have rushed to the upstairs to escape, but died there.”
Additional deputy commissioner police (ADCP), city-1, Amrik Singh Pawar said the bodies were shifted to the civil hospital where their post-mortem examination was conducted. “It is matter of concern that how the factory owner got permission to run a hosiery unit in the residential area.”
The SHO further added that the police would also investigate the role of municipal corporation employees.