Wife of man charged for Thaipusam scuffle lodges her own police report

Wife of man charged for Thaipusam scuffle lodges her own police report
The incident occurred during the Thaipusam procession along Desker Road on Feb 3.

SINGAPORE - The wife of one of the three men charged for disorderly behaviour at the Thaipusam procession on Feb 3 has lodged a police report claiming she was pushed and hit by the police during the procession.

The police statement said: "In response to media queries, the Police confirmed that it received a report on 4 February 2015 from a 30-year-old Indian female who alleged that three officers had hit or pushed her on 3 February 2015 at Desker Road, during the Thaipusam procession. She is the wife of one of the accused charged for disorderly behaviour at the same procession. Police take a serious view of any allegation against its officers and will investigate each case thoroughly. However, if the allegations are found to be false, appropriate action, in accordance with our laws, will be taken against any persons found to have furnished false information to the Police."

A scuffle had broken out on Tuesday's Thaipusam procession leading to the arrest of three men. Police said organisers had asked a group of people to stop playing traditional Indian drums as it was not allowed under the event's police permit.

It was reported that the group refused and a fight ensued at the junction of Desker Road and Serangoon Road. Police were called in, and during the commotion, three bystanders allegedly hurled vulgarities at officers and injured one of them. Videos of the incident were circulated online showing a tense situation, with officers and devotees pushing and shouting at one another.

On Saturday, Ramachandra Chandramohan, 32, Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 28, and Gunasegaran Rajendran, 33 were charged in court and released on bail. They will be back in court on March 6, reported The Straits Times.

Under guidelines for the Thaipusam festival by the Hindu Endowments Board, "music, gongs, drums or music producing equipment" are banned.

Earlier today, the Hindu Endowments Board has said it will continue to engage the authorities to review the conditions imposed for Thaipusam.

"Such engagement resulted in the relaxation of the rules in 2011 when singing of religious hymns was allowed along the procession route," chairman R Jayachandran said in a statement.

"Our Board values the views of Hindus and other stakeholders in our review of our services. Those who wish to give their feedback may write or email us, or post them on our Facebook," he added.

Netizens have debated on the prohibition of musical instruments during the procession, with some pointing out that there were no similar restrictions for other public ceremonies such as lion dances and weddings.

On Friday, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam said that these questions, while fair, arise from a misunderstanding of the rules.

"Most people don't realise, that in Singapore, all religious foot processions are banned. This ban was imposed in 1964, after riots," he said in a Facebook post.

He added that Hindus "have been given a special privilege" and allowed three religious foot processions - Thaipusam, Panguni Uthiram and Thimithi - and should, therefore, not feel discriminated against.

On Thursday, Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran also clarified while in Madrid that the ban on instruments, which has been in place since 1973, applies to all foot processions, regardless of religion.

spanaech@sph.com.sg
huizhen@sph.com.sg

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