Little India riot: Video of bus accident may provide answers

SINGAPORE - Answers to what sparked Sunday's riot in Little India may be found in a video recording obtained by the police.

Investigators had apparently retrieved the footage from a camera in the bus that allegedly ran over and killed Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu at the junction of Tekka Lane and Race Course Road.

The 33-year-old was said to have tried to board the bus that was there to ferry workers back to their dormitories. But when he was told to get off because it was full, he dropped his trousers before doing so.

The police could not provide more details on the video but The Straits Times understands that the footage showed Mr Sakthivel running after the bus in an unsteady manner as it was moving off, then stumbling and falling into the path of its rear tyre before he was run over.

On Tuesday, the police gave another update on how events unfolded on Sunday, including a detailed timeline of how its officers and those from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to the crisis.

9.23PM: Police receive a call informing them that "a bus has knocked down someone here, ambulance required".

9.25PM: SCDF alerted.

9.31PM: First SCDF ambulance arrives at the scene.

9.37PM: First police fast- response car arrives. A crowd of about 100 congregates nearby.

9.38PM: SCDF fire engine arrives.

9.41PM: Police reinforcements begin arriving in waves.

9.45PM: The mob swells to about 400, prompting the police to activate troops from the Special Operations Command (SOC).

9.56PM: Mr Sakthivel's body, which was pinned under the bus, is extricated but he is later pronounced dead by medics.

The mob has started pelting emergency first responders with drain covers, concrete blocks and beer bottles.

10.11PM: Police shield and guide the bus driver and timekeeper to a waiting ambulance, as the mob grows more violent, hindering rescue efforts.

10.30PM: First group of SOC troops arrive at Hampshire Road and proceed on foot to the accident scene.

10.37PM: A total of 53 other police patrol cars from across the country called to the scene as reinforcements.

10.44PM: SOC officers form up and begin to disperse the mob. First group of suspects nabbed.

11.30PM: Police take control of the scene.

11.45PM: Mob disperses as high-visibility patrols are deployed to prevent rioters from regrouping.

12.01AM: Investigations at the scene commence.

12.39AM: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean arrives with Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar.

5.08AM: Clean-up of the area begins as site investigations are completed.

6.45AM: Race Course Road is passable to traffic.

To date, investigators have interviewed some 3,700 foreign workers from 10 dormitories, and 176 workers have been taken to the Criminal Investigation Department to have their statements recorded.

On Tuesday, 24 Indian nationals were charged in court with rioting and remanded for a week. Investigations into the fatal accident and riot are still ongoing. Eight more suspects were arrested yesterday, with more expected to be nabbed in the coming days.

Meanwhile, patrols in Little India have been stepped up, as has police presence in areas where workers congregate, as a precautionary measure. Cameras will also be installed in the vicinity of Race Course Road in the coming week or so, in addition to existing ones.

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