The Police has announced that a 30-year-old man has been arrested over the alleged assault and racial slurs against a 55-year-old woman at Choa Chu Kang Drive last Friday.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Tuesday (11 May) that the man was arrested “for public nuisance, uttering words with intent to wound the racial feelings of others and voluntarily causing hurt”
The story of the incident was first shared on Instagram by the woman’s daughter, Parveen Kaur, and reposted on Wake Up, Singapore’s Instagram feed on Sunday (9 May) evening.
In the account, Ms Kaur started with a disclaimer: “To anyone who says racism doesn’t exist in Singapore and we should be thankful we aren’t in countries where minorities are in physical danger, read this.”
She then described how her mother, 55-year-old private tutor Hindocha Nita Vishnubhai, works near her home and takes brisk walks to work as a daily exercise. As she is brisk walking, Madam Nita had her mask down, as it need not be donned for such an activity.
However, during one of the walks to work, Ms Kaur said a man had come up to her mother and started harassing her to put her mask on.
Ms Kaur relayed, “She explained she was brisk walking but he didn’t care. He hurled vulgarities and racial slurs at her.”
“My mum responded with a “God bless you” and the guy kicked her in the chest.”
Ms Kaur said her mum fell and landed on her back, hurting herself further. The man ran away after the incident and left the older woman “shaking in tears”.
Ms Kaur noted that her mother was too shocked to call the police at the time and turned up to work, “bleeding and shaken.”
She lamented, “Now my mum is afraid of taking a walk in her own country.”
“I can’t comprehend the hatred it would have taken to attack a complete stranger,” she added, cursing anyone who “downplays racism” in Singapore.
“All it takes is a trigger, be it anti-CECA sentiments or blaming a country in crisis for local COVID outbreaks, for silent racism to manifest into violence,” she concluded.
The incident happened as Mdm Nita was walking from Choa Chu Kang MRT station towards the stadium around 8.30 am on Friday (7 April). The Straits Times (ST) reported Mdm Nita’s account of the incident where she said, “He shouted at me to put my mask above my nose. I patiently told him that I was exercising which is why I had the mask below my nose.”
“He then started to abuse me and even used a racial slur, I was absolutely shocked. I do not like confrontation and I wanted to avoid an argument with him, so I said ‘God bless you’ and decided to walk away,” she added.
He then ran towards her and did a “flying kick”, she said.
“It was a very forceful kick which caused me to fall to the ground. I kept saying ‘he kicked me, he kicked me’. I was in complete disbelief,” said the victim, who weighs about 60kg and is 1.6m tall, according to the ST report.
The man then ran away after she fell, sustaining scratches on her hands and arms.
A bystander who saw what happened from a nearby bus stand rush to Mdm Nita’s aid.
Investigations are ongoing, said the police.
If found guilty of public nuisance, the man could be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$2,000, or both.
For uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the racial feelings of any person, the punishment is an imprisonment term of up to three years, a fine, or both.
The offence of voluntary causing hurt carries an imprisonment term of up to three years, a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.
“The police take a serious view of such acts that have the potential to damage racial harmony in Singapore,” said SPF.
“Any person who makes remarks or takes action that can cause ill-will and hostility between the different races will be dealt with swiftly and in accordance with the law,” it added.
Victim allegedly told that she has to file a magistrate complaint for police to investigate
TOC understands that the victim had earlier filed a police report on the night of the attack and was told to file a Magistrate’s Complaint by the attending police officer.
The Police allegedly told the victim that their hands were tied as they can’t investigate the case without a magistrates complaint.
Because of this, the victim planned to get assessed by a doctor on Monday as the first step for the magistrates complaint.
TOC has reached out to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Police Force on Sunday over the police’s alleged response but no reply has been received so far.
However, the victim was informed on Monday morning that the police is investigating into the matter and therefore, there was no need to file a magistrate complaint anymore.