Little India riot: 18 injured, 27 arrested
SINGAPORE — Chaos broke out in Little India last night (Dec 8), after a crowd of hundreds surrounded a coach at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road that knocked down and killed an Indian national.
The riot, which the police said involved about 400 people, broke out around 9.30pm. The police said 27 South Asians have been arrested. More could be hauled in as investigations continue. The case has been classified as rioting with dangerous weapons.
In total, there were 18 casualties including 10 police officers, four Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel, as well as the coach driver - whom the police said is Singaporean - and his assistant. Six remained at Tan Tock Seng hospital overnight but their conditions were “not serious”, the authorities said.
Writing on Facebook at close to 3am, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the riot 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.” he said.
“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.”
The incident began after the SCDF was alerted at 9.25pm to a road accident in Little India. In a statement, SCDF said that a man was trapped under the bus when its officers arrived on the scene and a paramedic pronounced the man dead. While SCDF rescuers were extricating the body using hydraulic rescue equipment, “projectiles” were thrown at them, the statement said.
Eye witnesses told TODAY that they heard shouting before a crowd that had gathered at the scene started hurling bottles and rubbish bins at the police and SCDF vehicles. The crowd became more rowdy and threw more items including metal grates, baskets, vegetables and pieces of road dividers at law enforcement personnel.
Several police cars were overturned and five vehicles - three police vehicles, an SCDF ambulance and a motorbike - were burnt. In total, five police vehicles and nine SCDF vehicles were damaged.
A press conference was held after 2am at the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was flanked by Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran, Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee and Deputy Police Commissioner T Raja Kumar.
Mr Teo, who visited the scene with Mr Iswaran after the riot was brought under the control, noted the riot started after a crowd reacted to the fatal accident. “The Government will not tolerate such lawless behaviour. I have asked Police to deal with all aspects of the incident, including the traffic accident, what happened immediately after the traffic accident, and all ensuing incidents,” he said. “Police will investigate the matter thoroughly and deal with all the persons involved strictly, firmly, and fairly according to our laws.”