Little India riot: Foreign worker jailed a year for assaulting a police officer

An ambulance burns after a riot that broke out along Race Course Road in Little India riot on Dec 8, 2013. A construction worker was sentenced to a year in prison on Tuesday, for assaulting a police officer during the Little India riot last year. --
An ambulance burns after a riot that broke out along Race Course Road in Little India riot on Dec 8, 2013. A construction worker was sentenced to a year in prison on Tuesday, for assaulting a police officer during the Little India riot last year. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A construction worker was sentenced to a year in prison on Tuesday, for assaulting a police officer during the Little India riot last year.

Ganesan Periyaiah, 25, is the 22nd individual to be dealt with over last year's incident. The Indian national threw a glass beer bottle at the female police officer, who had just arrived at the scene and was not wearing a shield or helmet. The officer dodged the bottle which landed on the ground and shattered near her.

The court heard that after drinks with friends in the area, Ganesan received a call from a friend, who told him an Indian national had been killed. The friend warned him not to go to the area where the commotion was but Ganesan headed to Race Course Road with two others to see what was happening.

The victim, police corporal Saadiah Hamzah, 40, had arrived at the scene to join other officers. After noticing that projectiles were being thrown, she decided to retrieve her shield and helmet from her vehicle. This was when Ganesan approached her and committed the offence.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said that after his "audacious" act of assaulting the officer, Ganesan defied orders to disperse. He loitered along Race Course Road until Special Operations Command troops forced the mob into Kerbau Road, where he lingered for a while to watch other rioters pelt the officers with projectiles.

Ganesan's lawyer, Mr Raj Mannar, said the man retrieved and threw the bottle on the spur of the moment. His client, who came here to work in 2007, wants to return to India to be with his family and mother, who is terminally ill.

Ganesan, who pleaded guilty, has been in remand since Dec 10 last year. He is expected to be released from prison soon for good behaviour.

For assaulting a public servant in the discharge of her duty, he could have been jailed for up to eight years and fined.