A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) rescuer was almost pinned under the bus which ran over and killed an Indian national on Dec 8 last year, as he tried to extricate the body of the accident victim trapped under it.
This happened after the increasingly boisterous mob pushed the 41-seater bus, causing the hydraulic jack, used by SCDF officers to raise the bus in order to extricate the body, to collapse. But the SCDF officer got out of the way in time and even managed to pull out the victim's body in the process, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Little India riot heard on Thursday.
The event was related to the four-man COI by Senior Station Inspector (SSI) Akhbar Ali from Kampong Java Neighbourhood Police Centre. SSI Akhbar was one of the first responders to the scene of what was initially reported to the police as a road traffic accident. The 44-year-old police officer was trying to fend off the unruly crowd which had pelted the bus with projectiles during the SCDF rescue operation.
The court also viewed video footage taken from a Land Transport Authority closed-circuit TV camera, showing a police patrol car which had been driven to the scene by SSI Akhbar being overturned by rioters. SSI Akhbar said he was "frustrated" when he saw the mob overturn his vehicle but he could not intervene as he was busy dealing with another crowd of unruly rioters at another side of Race Course Road.
"It was the first time in my life I saw something like that," he said. "The people near my car were jumping and clapping and (from) the way they shouted, it was like they were so happy."