Indian TV channel corrects its report

An Indian television channel that caused uproar with its reporting on Sunday's Little India riot has aired a corrected version of its initial news report.

"We have corrected the news and the correct version was given at the same time and duration with same kind of prominence as the original news," Sun TV editor-in charge R. Umashankar told The Straits Times.

Its report on Monday night said that the worker who died, Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, was pushed off the bus by a female bus driver. It also claimed that Chinese and Singaporean individuals attacked Indian nationals.

Its corrected version on Tuesday said Mr Sakthivel was reportedly drunk and the driver assisted him off the bus, but he was run over as he ran alongside it.

The channel further clarified that a mob went on a rampage and the situation was brought under control by the police.

In its initial report on Monday, Sun TV, based in Chennai, also claimed that Chinese Singaporeans attacked Tamil Indian nationals who hid in their homes for fear of being harassed by the police or attacked by Singaporeans.

The correction came after Singapore's High Commissioner to India Lim Thuan Kuan wrote and asked the channel to correct its "erroneous" coverage.

He said in his letter: "The riot was an isolated incident arising from the unlawful actions of an unruly mob reacting to a fatal traffic accident. The vast majority of foreign workers in Singapore are peaceful, hardworking and law-abiding workers."

Mr Lim asked Sun TV for an immediate correction "to provide the full facts of the case so that your viewers have an accurate understanding of what really happened".

Responding, Mr Umashankar said he took responsibility. "I sincerely apologise for what has happened," he wrote. "I would like to put it on record that there was absolutely no intention on our part to do anything that will spoil the centuries-old cordial and friendly relationship among various communities living in Singapore."

He said Sun TV has ordered an internal inquiry to find out where the sub-editor who put together the news got the information.

Last night, Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said he was glad Sun TV had apologised but added that "in the first place the error should not have happened and we still have got no explanation as to why the error occurred".

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, he had expressed dismay with the station's coverage.

Other Indian newspapers and TV stations have also covered the incident. The Times of India reported yesterday that the rioters would be brought to court and faced seven years in jail and caning. The Hindu, an English language newspaper, also reported the latest, about the first 24 men who were charged.

gnirmala@sph.com.sg