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24 Indians charged for worst rioting in Singapore

By Gurdip Singh
December 10, 2013 16:10 IST
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Twenty-four Indians were on Tuesday charged in a Singapore court in connection with the country's worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years following the death of a compatriot in a road accident.

The men, aged between 22 and 40, were remanded for a week to facilitate further investigations and face one rioting charge each, punishable by up to seven years in prison and caning.

The case would be heard again on December 17.

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme was helping to secure lawyers for all the accused, its representative told the Court.

The Indian High Commission in Singapore was working with Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate consular access and support for the 24 men being charged for their role in riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break.

The trouble started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, 33-year-old Sakthivel Kuaravelu, around 9.20pm at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India.

The driver of the bus, who was earlier hospitalised, has been arrested.

The 24 charged were among 28 people arrested in connection with the riot. Four of them -- two Bangladeshis, one Indian national and one Singapore permanent resident -- have been released after investigations showed they were not involved in the riot, police said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ordered a probe into the incident and warned to use "full force of the law" against trouble-makers.

"I also offer my deepest condolences to the family of Sakthivel Kumaravelu, who was killed in the traffic accident that preceded the riot.”

"I have directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to convene a Committee of Inquiry to look into this serious incident. The COI will look into the factors that led to the incident and how the incident was handled on the ground," Lee said in a statement.

He said the riot was a very grave incident and his government would "spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law."

Singapore previously witnessed violence of this scale during race riots in 1969.

Image: The burnt shells of vehicles along Race Course Road following a riot near Singapore's Little India district. Photograph: Reuters

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Gurdip Singh
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