Little India riot: 13th man to be dealt with given nine months' jail

Palanivel Dhasmohan (left) and Karuppaiah Chandrasekar, both Indian nationals, were charged with being part of an unlawful assembly of about 400 people, and of throwing pieces of hardened cement at police officers. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Palanivel Dhasmohan (left) and Karuppaiah Chandrasekar, both Indian nationals, were charged with being part of an unlawful assembly of about 400 people, and of throwing pieces of hardened cement at police officers. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A construction worker on Thursday became the 13th person to be dealt with over the Little India riot last Dec 8.

Indian national Palanivel Dhasmohan, 28, was sentenced to nine months in jail after pleading guilty to being a member of an unlawful assembly that night.

A district court heard that Palanivel had just parted ways with a friend after meeting him at Tekka Market. He walked along Race Course Road and noticed the mob of about 100 persons attacking the bus. For about 45 minutes, Palanivel then walked along Race Course Road and Chander Road, at one point picking up a beer can and throwing it onto the street.

A Committee of Inquiry found on Monday that the incident had been triggered by a fatal accident involving a worker from India, but it was a confluence of factors that escalated the violence into Singapore's worst public order disturbance in more than 40 years.

Asking the court to impose a jail term of between nine and 12 months, Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said upon noticing the mob, the most natural thing for an innocent person to do would have been to leave immediately and not embroil himself in a dangerous or illegal situation. APP Kok pointed out that Palanivel had moved around the "hotbed" of the riot for 45 minutes and that his act of throwing the can should not be seen in isolation.

But Palanivel's lawyer Favian Kang in turn argued for a term of five months, noting that his client had not caused any damage or injury. Neither had he played an active role in the incident, he added.

For being a member of an unlawful assembly, Palanivel could have been jailed for up to two years and fined.