|24 Indians in dock over Singapore rioting amid calls to investigate migrant worker grievances
Singapore prosecutors will charge 24 Indian workers for taking part in the first riot in more than 40 years, police said.
The men face jail terms of up to 10 years plus caning for charges of rioting with dangerous weapons on Sunday night, triggered when an Indian construction worker was struck and killed by a private bus in the often-crowded Little India enclave.
They were among 400 involved in the rampage in which 39 police and civil defense staff were injured, and 25 vehicles – including 16 police cars – damaged or torched.
Two Bangladeshis, an Indian national and a Singapore permanent resident initially arrested were released after investigations showed they were not involved in the riot, police said.
The 55-year-old Singaporean bus driver who killed construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, has been released on bail after being arrested for causing death by a negligent act, police said.
Meanwhile, national hand wringing over the incident, Singapore's first riot since racial disturbances in 1969, continued with authorities calling for calm and warning against stoking racial hatred amid online attacks against foreign workers.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong set up a committee to be convened by the interior ministry to review the factors that led to the riot, as well as existing measures to manage areas where foreign workers gather in their thousands.
S. Iswaran, the second minister for the interior, said there would be a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the area where the riot broke out this weekend, amid signs that “alcohol consumption was a contributory factor.’
Bloggers and civil activists urged authorities to investigate whether the violence on Sunday was an indication of wider discontent among poorly paid migrant workers, many of whom also put up with poor living conditions in dormitories.
Blogger Alex Au said such grievances lower the threshold for the escalation of incidents like Sunday's riot.
“If these factors go unaddressed, the threshold for escalation remains low. The smallest incident gets to a tipping point quite easily,'' he wrote in a blog post.