Sunday, December 8, 2013

Little India Riot in Singapore

UPDATE #2: More details emerged about the Sunday night accident as Singapore Police has released a new statement:

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, police told local media that the man, reportedly identified as construction worker Sakthivel Kumarvelu, was drunk and causing trouble when he boarded the bus that eventually ran him down.

According to local media, the bus was full but he climbed on anyway and started to cause trouble. The bus was ferrying workers from Tekka Lane back to their dormitory in Jalan Papan. At one point, Sakthivel pulled his pants down and the bus driver asked his female timekeeper assistant -- in charge of keeping the bus running on schedule -- to get him to alight, reported Today newspaper. Channel NewsAsia reported that the female timekeeper on (the) bus (was) assaulted" before the 55-year-old bus driver closed the bus doors. 

Moments later, as the bus turned into Race Course Road, the driver heard a soft thud at the side of the bus -- Sakthivel had been knocked down and caught under the bus' left tyre.

After the accident, the crowd outside the bus became "agitated", attacking the bus driver and timekeeper by throwing bottles, stones and dustbins at the bus.
Source : Deceased foreign worker in Little India riot was drunk, ejected from bus: Police

UPDATE #1: Singapore Police has arrested 27 suspects related to the Little India riots: Of those arrested, 24 are Indian nationals, two are Bangladeshi nationals and one is a Singapore Permanent Resident. The suspects are aged between 23 and 45.

According to Singapore TV channels, a riot broke out in Little India after an Indian worker was hit and killed by bus. Images of burned vehicles and people attacking a bus were seen on Channel News Asia. The Little India riot has started late in Sunday night. The mob has burned down an ambulance and turned a police car upside down according to footages shown in the media.

Little India is a gathering place for foreign workers of Indian and Bangladeshi origins and the place is especially crowded with workers on Sundays which is off day for many.

Riot in Little India has started when a mob of 400 people surrounded a couch which has hit and killed a Indian worker at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. A police statement said the disturbance started in the congested Little India district when a 33-year-old Indian man was killed after being hit by a private bus. Little India Riot has started around 09:20 PM in the night and continued 2 hours. According to a statement released by Singapore Police at 12:48, Ten police officers were injured, while several private vehicles, five police vehicles and one ambulance were damaged.

Residents living at Blk 661 Buffalo Road, many of whom had a bird's eye view of how the riot unfolded, said they saw at least three police patrols cars being turned onto their sides by the mob. Two ambulances at the scene were also attacked, one was seen with its windscreen smashed, while another, which was next to a Traffic Police Expressway Patrol, was on fire.
Source : Little India Riot: 27 nabbed; more expected to be arrested in 'hours and days that follow'
Victim of the traffic accident, Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu, has later been identified. He has been working in Singapore as a construction worker with Heng Hup Soon, a scaffolding company, for about two years.

Pictures of the riot in Little India has started to pour to internet in the very late hours of Sunday night.

Riot in Little India started around 9:20 PM and continued for 2 hours according to
Singapore Media. Photo - TodayOnline
Authorities arrested 27 people related to Little India. All arrested were South Asian decendent. More arrests are expected in the coming days. According to the authorities, the situation is under control. According to ABC the situation was brought under control after the elite Special Operations Command and Gurkhas working for the police arrived on the scene.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sent a Facebook entry about the riot saying "The Little India riot last night was a very grave incident":
The Little India riot last night was a very grave incident. Several police officers were injured, and vehicles damaged or destroyed. The situation is now under control, and investigations are underway. Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour. We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law. 
I urge all Singaporeans to stay calm. Do send the Police any information, photos or videos of the incident that you may have. I also wish the injured officers a full and speedy recovery. - LHL
Riot in Singapore's Little India (with press conference coverage)

Little India Riot was the first riot in Singapore since racial disturbances in 1969.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "I want to make very clear that the government will not tolerate such lawless behaviour. I have asked the police to investigate the matter thoroughly and deal with all aspects of this incident and all persons involved strictly, firmly and fairly according to our law."

Mr Teo has urged the public to stay calm and not react to various speculations, and also to let the facts be established.

Videos showing how Little India riots started
YouTube user chewkkf uploaded a series of four videos capturing the escalation of the riot at Little India on 8 December 2013. Below are the first two.

Angry mob at Little India

Mob overturning the cars

Below is Singapore Police Force statement about the riot in Little India:

"On Dec 8 at 2123 hrs, a fatal traffic accident occurred between a private bus and a person at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. Shortly after, a riot broke out involving a crowd of about 400 subjects where the subjects damaged 5 police vehicles and 1 ambulance. Several other private vehicles were also damaged. 10 officers were injured.

"Police activated resources from Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent to the sene and the situation is under control.

"Police would like to advise the public in the area to remain indoors while police operations are ongoing. Other members of the public are advised to keep away from the vicinity. Members of the public are also advised to stay calm and not to speculate on this incident. Members of the public with any information of the riot are advised to call the police at 1800-2550000.

"Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, said, "This is a serious incident which has resulted in injuries and damage to public property. the situation is now under control. Police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot."

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