Committee of Inquiry hearing: Man who died appeared drunk, says passenger

Mr Ganesan Thanaraj, 34, told the Committee of Inquiry into the Dec 8 riot that he first noticed Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu after he staggered into a bus queue.

THE man who was killed after he tripped and fell into the path of a moving bus as he was running after it had appeared drunk before the accident in Little India, said a passenger on the bus.

Mr Ganesan Thanaraj, 34, told the Committee of Inquiry into the Dec 8 riot on Monday that he first noticed Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu after he staggered into a bus queue.

The welder, who is also from India, said he was standing in line for the private bus bound for a dormitory in Jalan Papan when Mr Sakthivel, a 33-year-old construction worker, approached him.

"He was asking if Bangladeshi workers were better than Indian workers," said Mr Ganesan.

"He then came up to me and asked me the same question... I told him that he was saying the wrong things."

This was after the bus timekeeper Wong Geck Woon asked a Bangladeshi worker to help tell all the workers from India to stand in line.

After ranting about the issue to others in the queue, Mr Sakthivel jumped the line and managed to get on the bus that was parked along Tekka Lane.

Madam Wong, 38, later ordered the Indian national to get off the bus after he allegedly dropped his bermuda shorts while on board.

Although Mr Sakthivel did not react at first, he alighted "on his own" after she raised her voice at him, Mr Ganesan said.

Mr Sakthivel would later be seen on closed-circuit television camera footage - that was presented to the committee - chasing after the bus before he fell and was run over by the vehicle as it made a left turn into Race Course Road.

"The bus was turning at a junction when I saw someone dashing to the front of the bus from the side," said Mr Ganesan.

"Subsequently, I felt a hard bump... and the bus stopped.

" I concluded that the bus must have run over the person."

waltsim@sph.com.sg

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