Little India Riot: Temporary liquor ban in district to take effect from Friday to Sunday

An employer at a liquor store in Little India cleans the shop before the day begins on Dec 10, 2013. Liquor store owners in Little India will not be allowed to sell any alcohol from Saturday until Monday morning, as the temporary ban on the sale and
An employer at a liquor store in Little India cleans the shop before the day begins on Dec 10, 2013. Liquor store owners in Little India will not be allowed to sell any alcohol from Saturday until Monday morning, as the temporary ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the district takes effect this weekend. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Liquor store owners in Little India will not be allowed to sell any alcohol from Friday until Sunday, as the temporary ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the district takes effect this weekend.

In a letter issued to licensees on Tuesday, the Liquors Licensing Board (LLB) said it has decided to suspend all liquor licences in the "Little India cluster and surrounding vicinity" on Dec 13, 14 and 15, in view of the riot on Sunday. The ban will also cover the period up till 11.59pm of Dec 16 for licensees that were granted extended hours.

"This suspension will help to stabilise the situation and allow (the police) to assess the next steps in consultation with various stakeholders," said the LLB, adding that the move was taken after consultation with the police.

The board also reminded licensees in the letter that enforcement actions would be taken against any infringement of the suspension order, which may lead to revocation of the liquor licences.

This latest move comes after Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said on Monday that the ban will apply this weekend, following a riot that broke out along Race Course Road on Sunday, as a "first step to stabilise the situation".

The details of the ban, such as the geographical area it will cover and boundaries, were not released in the letter, seen by The Straits Times on Wednesday.

Mr Rohit Razdan, who runs Kashmir, a restaurant on Race Course Road said the letters were hand delivered to his establishment by the police. "They even took signatures to ensure that store owners had received it," he said.

Many residents in the area, who have long complained about the noise and overcrowding on Sunday nights and mess that foreign workers often leave behind, told The Straits Times that they welcomed the move.

For many liquor licensees, including food and beverage outlets, however, say the ban will mean a drop in this month's takings.

To date, investigators have interviewed some 3,700 foreign workers from 10 dormitories, and 176 workers have been taken to the Criminal Investigation Department to have their statements recorded.

To date, 24 Indian nationals have been charged in court with rioting and remanded for a week, with three more to follow later on Wednesday.

Investigations into the fatal accident and riot are still ongoing with police saying more suspects are expected to be nabbed in the coming days.

Meanwhile, patrols in Little India have been stepped up, as has police presence in areas where workers congregate, as a precautionary measure. Cameras will also be installed in the vicinity of Race Course Road in the coming week or so, in addition to existing ones.