By Terry Xu
Auxiliary police officer Srisivasangkar Subramaniam, who has been working in CISCO for two years, testified at the Committee of Inquiry (COI) that his colleague, Mr Raymond Murugiasu and he were at the scene at the very start of the Little India riot in December 2013.
Their initial task was to control the crowd gathered around the bus involved in the fatal accident. When Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers arrived to extricate the body, he and the other CISCO officers asked the crowd to move back but the mob continued to be noisy and persisted in throwing projectiles at the bus. The group then helped to form the human barrier to provide working space for the SCDF officers.
He noted that the anger escalated when the bus driver and lady was taken away and the crowd started to pelt projectiles at the officers.
The rowdy scene then shifted over to Kerbau Road.
Apprehending the rioters
He then tried to arrest four foreign workers who hurled bottles from the back of the crowd by grabbing the individuals from behind and handed them to the police one by one, before rejoining his supervisor.
He said that he did not feel afraid when he tried to arrest the rioters, and that the crowd did not turned on him when he was doing so.
He did not know if they were subsequently handcuffed by the police as he said he was focused on catching more of those who are throwing objects at the bus.
Asked by the COI why he stopped making arrests, he explained that his supervisor told him that it was not his duty, he was alone in making the arrests and hence he should stop.
He was then instructed by a female inspector to move over to the junction of Kampong Jaya and Hampshire road to stop traffic, and clear the vehicles along the road as well as the crowd gathered there.
After his duties, he went to Singapore General Hospital to receive medical attention for his injuries.
Working on the ground
APO Srisivasangkar said the crowd on Sunday is always very large. He also commented that should he need to issue a summon, he would explain what the offender did wrong before issuing the summon. He would try to explain how it would benefit the workers if they cooperate.
“The foreign workers would always be unhappy because getting a summons meant they had to pay a fine. However, after I explain the situation to them, they do not get angry at me.”
On the accusation that CISCO officers mistreated foreign workers at Little India, he replied that the accusation is wrong. He added that when he perform his duties and issue his summons, he would treat them with great respect and would refer to them as elder brothers.
On the issue of timing for the ferry services being limited to 9pm, he commented that foreign workers are now asked to use the MRT after 9pm even when they are drunk. He asked what guarantee would they not do the same if they are in MRT?
Can he make arrests?
He was called back to the stand along with Staff Sergeant (SSG) Mahmood Masdar from CISCO on Wednesday to answer some questions pertaining to the statement made about arresting four rioters.
The DPP asked APO Srisivasangkar if he felt that the arrests made by him was an official arrest by standard operating procedures (SOP) – in which, he was to handcuff the individual, inform the person that he was being arrested before taking down the particulars and also explain the offense to the person.
APO Srivansangkar said “no”, and agreed with the DPP that he was just detaining the four rioters.
COI chairman, Mr G P Selvam then asked if he could have followed SOP given the situation of that night, to which APO Srisivasangkar again answered “no”.
APO Srivansangkar clarified that he asked those whom he had arrested one by one to remain where a group of police officers were stationed. He did not know if the police took hold of the arrested individuals as he only assumed the police would have seen them and that he was focused on catching more troublemakers.
When asked what he said to APO Srisivasangkar, SSG Mahmood recounted saying, “you are brave, but dangerous to go alone”. He also testified that he did not see Mr Srisavangkar arresting the rioters before asking to join his team for traffic control duties.
APO Srisivasangkar said he assumed his supervisor knew what he did as he had spoken through the walkie talkie earlier.
Mr Selvam then asked, if he was asked to arrest more rioters, would he be able to do it? APO Srisivasangkar said he would be able to, since he was already alone when he went into the crowd and was able to catch four.
Mr Selvam asked the prosecutor about why the witness was called back to the stand and why an additional witness was called. The prosecutor replied that the witness was called back so that the committee could clarify with the witness on his statement and that it would be best to have SSG Mahmood to address any queries on APO Srisivasangkar’s evidence.
Mr Selvam commented that he did not know what the prosecutor achieved by that.
Image from Today Online