Little India Riot Inquiry: Auxiliary cop 'caught' four suspects but did not arrest them

AN AUXILIARY police officer on Wednesday admitted that he had personally "caught" four suspects during the riot in Little India, and not "arrested" them as he previously claimed.

Certis Cisco constable Srisivasangkar Subramaniam, 22, was recalled to clarify his earlier evidence after investigators for the Committee of Inquiry (COI) were asked to look into his claims.

Two senior police officers had also told the committee that it was not possible to make any arrests because of their limited manpower, and doing so may have further agitated the mob and inflamed what was an already volatile situation.

Mr Srisivasangkar told the COI on Tuesday that he had arrested four Indian workers after he saw them "throwing things" during the riot.

The constable said he grabbed them from behind and dragged them 10 to 20 steps from Kerbau Road to Race Course Road and handed them over to the police.

After State Counsel John Lu asked if he caught all four men at once, COI chairman G. Pannir Selvam remarked: "You must be Superman if you had handled all of them at the same time."

Mr Srisivasangkar later admitted that he did not follow the proper procedures for making arrests, the inquiry heard.

For instance, he did not tell the suspects that they were under arrest, explain the offence committed or take down their particulars.

Furthermore, the "five to six" police officers that he left the suspects with were focused on dealing with the unruly mob, Mr Srisivasangkar said on Wednesday.

He added that he was unsure if the police had even seen him arriving with the four suspects, and that he could not remember if he had said anything to the officers at the time.

"It did not occur to me that they might run away," he added. "I thought the police would have seen me, so I left them there."

Mr Srisivasangkar said he later radioed his supervisor, Sergeant Mahmood Masdar, to tell him what he had done. Then, he made his way to meet the sergeant at Hampshire Road, as he had sustained a stomach injury.

The constable had said in his earlier statement: "After handing over the fourth person, my ground supervisor told me that what I was doing was brave but dangerous and told me to stop."

However, Sgt Mahmood, who was called as an unscheduled witness on Wednesday to clarify Mr Srisivasangkar's claims, said his remarks were taken out of context.

"I told him he was brave, but it was dangerous to go in (to the scene of the riot) alone without safety equipment," he said.

He added that he did not receive any message about the arrests Mr Srisivasangkar made through his walkie-talkie because "sometimes, there was interference; it was very noisy".

The status of the four men caught by Mr Srisivasangkar remains unclear.

When Mr Lu asked Mr Srisivasangkar if he considered himself as having "formally arrested the four Indian workers", the constable replied: "No."

waltsim@sph.com.sg

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Riot in Singapore's Little India