SINGAPORE - Three Singaporean men were charged in court on Saturday morning for disorderly behavior and attacking police officers at a Thaipusam event held earlier in the week.
Ramachandra Chandramohan, 32, was alleged to have punched, kicked and verbally abused four police officers. He was also charged with disorderly behavior and faces seven charges in total, the highest number among the trio.
Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 28, faces three charges. He was charged with disorderly behavior, allegedly hurling vulgarities at a police officer and obstructing another police officer from carrying out his duties.
Gunasegaran Rajendran, 33, faces a disorderly behavior charge and is alleged to have abused a police officer.
The trio were calm and emotionless when their charges were read to them in court through an interpreter.
They were accompanied to court by four family members and friends. It is unclear how they are related, but one family member who declined to be named said that the three men are cousins.
The three men were part of a group which hired drummers in the Thaipusam procession. The drummers were asked to stop playing by the police and a scuffle broke out.
A video of the scuffle was posted online and it sparked online outcry, with some members of the public asking why is music banned at Thaipusam while lion dances and Malay wedding music are allowed in public.
Responding, Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said on Thursday that the ban on music instruments applied to all foot processions, including religious events, since 1973.
Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam also said on Friday that lion dances and Malay wedding music are social events, not religious processions. He added that only Hindus are allowed to hold religious foot processions and urged the public to back police's actions at the Thaipusam event.
The trio are on police bail and their cases will be heard in court again on March 6. If convicted, they face maximum jail sentences of between three months and seven years, maximum fines of between $2,000 and $5,000, or both.
Ramachandra Chandramohan is also liable to be caned if convicted of attacking police officers.