By Andrew Loh
When 28-year old Arun Kaliamurthy visited Singapore on 28 November, little did he know that his life would be turned upside down, or that he would land in the custody of the Singapore police just days later.
Mr Arun, represented by lawyer M Ravi, is among the 28 charged for the riot in Little India on 8 December.
He was arrested in the early morning of 9 December in Rowell Road, and was held for two weeks before bail was allowed. His family, who has flown in from Chennai in India, raised the money to bail him out on 24 December. It was not easy to raise the funds in such short notice, his uncle told The Online Citizen (TOC).
Mr Arun, who has a Masters degree in IT (Networking), had worked in Singapore for 3 years until September, when his work pass expired.
When his work pass expired, he decided to go home also to tend to his father, who had spent 10 days in hospital for heart problems recently.
He then visited Singapore on 28 November to settle some personal matters, and to catch up with friends here.
He had put up at a flat in Chander Road in Little India, just a stone’s throw from Race Course Road, where the riot would take place on Sunday, 8 December.
Mr Arun tells TOC that he had left the area when the riot happened and when he realised that things were getting too rowdy. He had thus gone to Rowell Road and was looking to have his dinner when he was picked up by the police later that evening, after midnight, together with about 10 others.
He would remain in police custody for the next two weeks without access to lawyers or his family, who were informed by the Indian embassy here about 3 days after his arrest.
Mr Arun insists that he is innocent and that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Having worked in Singapore for several years, he was also a regular blood donor, and was happy with his time spent here and in his work.
So, he was quite shocked to be accused of being part of the riotous mob.
At his second court appearance, together with 6 others, he spoke up about being assaulted during police interrogations. The judge had asked the deputy public prosecutor to look into the claim.
In his statement after his court appearance on Friday, Mr Arun again reiterated this charge – that he was assaulted by the police while in their custody. He also said that he was verbally abused and physically assaulted while in remand.
He also told TOC that the way he was treated was “an injustice” even though he was here on a social visit pass and was in fact a tourist.
“It is a total injustice done to me,” he told the media. “I deserve justice and dignity and I have to be treated just like any other tourists who come to Singapore.”
Mr Arun was the first of the 28 arrested to be out on bail, which was set at S$20,000. As part of the conditions for him to be allowed bail, he was required to surrender his passport, he is not to be in the Little India area, and he has to remain indoors between 8pm and 6am.
He also has to report to the police every Friday.
Mr Arun has been granted an S-Pass since he has to remain in Singapore but he has to have it renewed every morning at 9am at the Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
Mr Ravi raised this in court on Friday and asked the judge to allow him to renew his pass on a weekly basis, rather than on a daily basis. The judge said that he was unable to make such an order to the ICA.
Mr Ravi then asked the court to remind the authorities to ensure that the ICA is open on the weekends for his client to be able to renew his S-Pass.
Also, since Mr Arun is no longer allowed to be in the Little India area, he has had to move out of his flat in Chander Road. He is now staying with a friend in Bedok North.
Mr Arun says he is determined to clear his name and this is why he has appointed Mr Ravi as his lawyer.
“I hope Singaporeans will understand my feelings,” he said.
His case will be heard again on 30 December.