There has been much speculation about the recent riot incident at Little India on 8 Dec 2013. However, not all information that you read online is true. Here are some facts:
When and how did the police respond to the incident?
On 8 Dec 2013, a fatal traffic accident occurred involving a private bus and a foreign worker, Sakthivel Kumaravelu, at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. [ADDENDUM AS AT 13 FEB 2014: Further investigations established that the actual location of the accident was at the junction of Tekka Lane and Race Course Road. These findings were released on 11 Feb through the Attorney-General's Chambers following their review of investigative papers on the incident.]* Mr Sakthivel was believed to be drunk at the time and tried to board the bus which was already full.
*Last updated: 13 February 2014
Were there people injured as a result?
37 Police Officers, 5 Auxilliary Police Officers and 12 SCDF Officers sustained injuries and lacerations during the riot. The driver of the private bus, a 55- year-old Singaporean, and his 38-year-old timekeeper were also injured.
Contrary to some online reports, Mr Sakthivel was not decapitated. He was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of the traffic accident.
16 Police cars and 9 SCDF vehicles were also damaged during the riot.
Who was involved in the rioting?
A total of 420 persons were called up for investigations, in connection with the rioting incident. Persons charged were found to have committed acts of violence, damaged property, defied police orders or incited others to do so. Out of the 28 persons who face charges under Section 147 of the Penal Code, three of them have had their charges withdrawn upon further investigations by the police as of 23 Dec. The 25 accused have been granted bail. If bail is raised, they will have certain restrictions imposed on their movements. Those who are unable to raise the bail will be remanded in Prison.
A total of 57 persons have been identified for participating in the riot and for failing to disperse despite orders from the Police. These persons were granted consular access. 53 were originally identified in this group and as of 20 Dec, four more persons, who had their charges withdrawn earlier, have been added. These 57 persons have been repatriated and are prohibited from returning to Singapore.
In addition, another 200 persons were also present at the scene, but whose involvement have been assessed to be passive. They will be issued a formal Police Advisory and no further action will be taken against them.*
A foreign news outlet had incorrectly reported that an Indian national had been pushed out of a bus and was killed instantly. They also reported that Singaporeans and Chinese nationals had attacked the foreign Tamils, resulting in the escalated riot situation.
This is NOT true. Mr Sakthivel passed away as a result of being knocked down by the private bus. Singapore’s High Commissioner to India has written to India’s Sun TV Network to request for an immediate correction. They have since apologised and aired a corrected version of its report.
*Last updated: 23 December 2013
Did the police resort to violence when handling the incident?
No shots were fired. Police officers displayed maximum restraint and did not fire any weapon throughout the incident. Their main objective was to contain the situation and minimise any injuries to all present, particularly innocent bystanders.
So what’s happening next?
The Police have substantially completed investigations into the riot as of 17 Dec. 25 subjects were charged in court as of 23 Dec. The Police will continue to monitor the situation at Little India.
The bus driver involved in the initial accident has been arrested as well for Causing Death by Negligent Act. He has been released on bail, pending further investigations.
PM Lee has called for a Committee of Inquiry to look into the factors surrounding the incident, and how the incident was handled on the ground. It will also look at measures to manage areas where foreign workers gather.
Anyone with information on the riot should come forward and contact the Police.
Alcohol Ban and Bus Services**
A ban on consumption of alcohol at public places (e.g. at void decks, open areas) in Little India will be in effect every weekend, public holiday and eve of a public holiday, until the Committee of Inquiry makes its recommendations.
Retail and wholesale licence holders (e.g. liquor shops) are allowed to continue selling alcohol but only from 6am to 8pm on weekends, public holidays and eve of public holidays.
This will not affect the consumption and sale of alcohol at other public houses with licences (e.g. hawker centres, coffee shops, restaurants) as long as the alcohol is consumed within the premises.
As for bus services, the 25 Little India Bus Services run by private bus operators will resume operation from Sunday, 22 Dec 2013, but at half the number of scheduled buses. They will also only operate from 2pm to 9pm instead of the previous 2pm to 11pm schedule.
**Last updated: 23 December 2013
For more information and the latest updates, please visit the following sources:
This article is accurate as of Dec 2013.