Riots hit Singapore’s Little India, 24 Indians arrested

The Singapore police arrested 27 South Asians over the riots and has said more will be held soon.

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2013, 22:52 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Singapore: Major riots broke out in Singapore for the first time in 40 years, when South Asians set fire to vehicles and clashed with police in the Indian district of Singapore known as ‘Little India’ late on Sunday over the death of an Indian national, who was killed in a bus accident.

The Singapore police arrested 27 South Asians over the riots and has said more will be held soon. Out of 27 arrested, 24 were said to be Indians.

Saying that no Singaporean was involved in the violence, the Singapore Police Force Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said that the culprits won`t be spared and added that such riots were "not the Singapore way".

He said that 10 policemen and four defence personnel were injured in the violence.

"The unwanted violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police, is not the Singapore way," Ng said.

The riot broke out after a 33-year old Indian lost his life when a private bus being driven by a Singaporean ran him over.

In what some local media reports called as "the worst such unrest in more than 40 years in Singapore", over 400 men of South Asian origins, furious over the Indian`s death, set vehicles to fire and smashed the windscreen of the bus.

Over 300 security men were sent to placate the situation.

News channels` footages showed chaotic scenes with police vehicles flipped over and several other vans including ambulances in flames.

According to Singapore`s Civil Defence Force (CDF), an ambulance, three police cars and a motorbike were set ablaze.

Many online videos showed a frantic crowd demolishing the windscreen of the bus even as the victim remained trapped under the vehicle.

The CDF added that the rioters threw objects at those trying to remove the body.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that authorities would "spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law."

"Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behavior," Lee wrote in a statement on his Facebook page early Monday. The violence sparked debate among Singaporeans on social media about issues of overcrowding and the increase of migrant workers hired for Singapore`s construction sector and menial jobs.

The riot is likely to fuel concerns about discontent among low-paid foreign workers. Last year, Singapore saw its biggest outbreak of labour unrest in years when around 170 bus drivers from mainland China went on strike illegally.

Little India is an area popular among Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Nepali expatriates. It has scores of restaurants, grocery shops and a mall selling food and other items for people from those countries. On Sundays, the area is especially crowded with South Asian workers.

With Agency Inputs