Little India riot: Customers' safety comes first

What started as a normal Sunday evening for the many restaurants at Race Course Road turned into a night of terror when a riot broke out at their doorsteps.

A manager at Sakunthala's told The New Paper on Monday that his customers were enjoying their meals when he noticed a commotion outside.

The Indian national and Singapore permanent resident who wanted to be known as Mr Basha, 33, said: "I saw a lot of people running down the road at around 10.30pm and they told me to close the restaurant. I suddenly heard explosions and immediately decided to lock the doors."

Mr Basha, who has lived in Singapore for nine years, said he still had about 10 diners, including Singaporeans and tourists, when he decided to switch off the lights.

He said: "We did it for safety reasons. Our customers' safety comes first."

Another restaurant, Banana Leaf Apolo, a few doors away, also closed its doors to protect its customers.

Waiter Manikandan Ramalingam, 36, an Indian national, said: "There were about 30 customers when we closed the shutters. We did not allow anyone inside."

The two restaurants let their customers out an hour later, when the ruckus died down.


Said Mr Basha: "We saw some policemen and asked for their help to escort our customers to their cars or the MRT station. I'm glad none of our customers was hurt in the riot."

The owner of Spice Box restaurant on the same road, Mr M.P. Ramesh, 38, said he told his customers to leave when he saw the rioters throwing rocks and glass bottles outside.

He said: "I was very scared. We tried to keep the tables and chairs before they started taking them to throw at others. We lost about nine chairs and two tables."

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