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24 Indians held after Singapore riot

Singapore, Dec. 9 (PTI): Twenty-seven South Asian workers, including 24 Indians, were arrested today for alleged rioting in Singapore as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ordered a probe into the country’s worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years.

Other than the Indians, two Bangladeshis and one Singaporean permanent resident, whose origin was not known, were arrested for last night’s rioting, which was triggered by a road accident that killed an Indian worker.

At least 18 people, including 10 policemen, were injured when some 400 people turned their anger on the police and damaged 16 vehicles in the Little India district here, police said.

The trouble started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, Sakthivel Kuaravelu, 33, at around 9.20pm at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break, they said.

All 27 arrested are in the age-group of 23-45 and face charges under “rioting with dangerous weapons”, punishable by up to seven years in prison as well as caning.

The Indian High Commission in Singapore said it was calling on all parties to remain calm following the riot.

“We understand the situation is under control and Singapore authorities have appealed for maintaining calm by all sections of society. We hope all parties will maintain calm,” said the High Commission in a statement.

High Commissioner Vijay Thakur Singh said the High Commission was in constant touch with the Singapore authorities to ascertain the facts of the incidents.

Singh said the High Commission would inform the next of kin of Kumaravelu.

Lee conveyed his deepest condolences to Kuaravelu’s family and ordered a probe into the incident. “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 (COI) 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”.

Kuaravelu, who is from Tamil Nadu, was working here as a construction worker with Heng Hup Soon, a scaffolding company, for about two years. His body was not decapitated as reported by some news outlets but he did suffer injuries to his face, The Straits Times reported today.

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