Little India Riot: 23-year-old jailed 15 weeks for amended charge of failing to disperse

The wrecked private bus at the junction of Race Course Road at the aftermath of the Little India riot on Dec 9, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 
The wrecked private bus at the junction of Race Course Road at the aftermath of the Little India riot on Dec 9, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 

Construction worker Singaravelu Vignesh was on Monday afternoon sentenced to 15 weeks in jail for failing to disperse when ordered to by the police during last December's riot in Little India.

The 23-year-old Indian national, who was originally accused of rioting, pleaded guilty earlier in the day to an amended charge of "continuing in an assembly after it had been ordered to disperse" under Section 151 of the Penal Code.

After less than an hour of deliberation, deputy chief district judge S. Jennifer Marie sentenced Singaravelu to 15 weeks in prison with effect from his arrest date on Dec 8. He could have faced up to two years in jail and/or a fine, as opposed to seven years and caning for rioting.

This is believed to be only the second time that Section 151 has been invoked in Singapore. The only precedent was the case of his friend and fellow construction worker, Chinnappa Vijayaragunatha Poopathi, who last week was the first to be sentenced among the 25 Indian nationals charged in relation to the riot.

Chinnappa had earlier been dealt a 15-week jail term, which was also backdated to his Dec 8 arrest date. The court heard that both had been together on the night of the riot.

The Dec 8 riot is the worst case of violence Singapore has seen in more then four decades. It left 49 Home Team officers injured and 23 emergency vehicles damaged.