Three men were charged in court yesterday with disorderly behaviour and attacking police officers during last Tuesday's Thaipusam procession.
Ramachandra Chandramohan, 32, was accused of punching and kicking three officers, and hurling vulgarities at an officer in a police van and his religion Islam after his arrest. He was also charged with disorderly behaviour and faces seven charges in total, the highest number among the trio.
Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 28, faces three charges of disorderly behaviour, hurling vulgarities at an officer in a police van and obstructing another officer from carrying out his duties.
Gunasegaran Rajendran, 33, faces charges of disorderly behaviour and wounding the religious feelings of an officer in a police van.
The three men, all Singaporeans, were expressionless when their charges were read to them.
They were accompanied by four family members and friends.
A family member, who declined to be named, said the men are cousins.
The three were part of a group which hired drummers to accompany a participant in the Thaipusam procession.
A scuffle broke out after police asked another set of drummers to stop playing at the junction of Serangoon Road and Desker Road.
Videos of the incident were posted online and netizens asked why music was banned during the Thaipusam procession whereas lion dances and hand-held drums at Malay wedding celebrations were allowed.
Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran explained last Thursday that the ban on music instruments has applied to all foot processions, including religious events, since 1973.
He said that the rules for street processions were meant to keep public order, and that the Hindu Endowments Board allowed musical instruments within temple premises.
In an extensive Facebook post last Friday, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said Hindus should not feel they are being discriminated against because of the ban on musical instruments, and pointed out that they are the only religious group allowed to hold religious foot processions on major roads.
The men charged yesterday face maximum jail sentences of between one month and seven years, maximum fines of between $1,000 and $5,000, or both a jail term and fine.
Ramachandra Chandramohan may also be caned if convicted of attacking three officers.
The men, represented by Mr James Selvaraj, were released on police bail, and will be back in court on March 6.
This article was first published on Feb 8, 2015.
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