Thaipusam incident’s fallout continued over the weekend

In case you folks missed the developments of the Thaipusam incident over the weekend, here is a round-up.

Three arrested during Thaipusam incident charged

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The men involved in the altercation during Thaipusam processions have been formally charged in court on 7 Feburary.

Ramachandra Chandramohan (left in picture), 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.

Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy (center in picture) , 28, faces three charges – disorderly behavior, allegedly using vulgarities on a police officer in a police van, and obstruction of a police officer from carrying out his duties.

Gunasegaran Rajendran (right in picture), 33, faces a disorderly behavior charge and is alleged to have abused a police officer.

The three are apparently cousins.

Arrested man gives his side of the story

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One of the arrested men, believed to be Ramachandra Chandramohan (signed off as “Mohan”), submitted his side of the story to news site The Real Singapore, refuting the claims of state media reports that he and his cousins were drunk at the time of the incident. He also claimed that the media’s reports of the three men playing drums were wrong.

He explained that he had hired a few boys to play music (referred to as Urumi boys in the post) for his “cousin brother”, who was one of the kavadi holders.

He was told by temple officials that the Urumi boys were not allowed to play music as the police had set regulations restricting music from being played.

They agreed, and did not join the procession, but the Urumi boys rejoined at Desker Road and started playing music, until they were “aggressively” stopped by temple officials.

His “cousin brother”, believed to be one of the other arrested men, began arguing with the temple officials over the playing of music, when a group of men barged in and allegedly manhandled Mr Mohan and his cousin brother.

During the scuffle, Mr Mohan noticed his sister-in-law being pushed to the ground, apparently by a man wearing a white t-shirt.

He broke free from the group of men who had been trying to bring him to the ground and punched the white t-shirt clad man, after which he was pinned to the ground and brought back to the police station along with the other two.

It was after punching the man that Mr Mohan realised the group he was scuffling with were police officers.

In the post, Mr Mohan blamed the HEB for not standing up for Indians in disallowing Urumi and Thavil from being played during Thaipusam.

He also made the comparison of kompangs and lion dances being allowed during the fracas with the police officers, which was deemed as making a racist remark and being racist — something he objects to.

Law Minister calls Thaipusam processions “privilege” to Hindus

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On a Facebook post dated 6 February, Minister of Law K Shanmugam detailed why Hindus are actually privileged rather than discriminated against — only Hindus are allowed to have religious foot processions in Singapore, and the ban on foot processions and musical instruments are there because of heightened sensitivity relating to religion

He also emphasized that music during “social and community events” such as lion dances and kompangs are allowed because they are not religious in nature.

He did acknowledge that the banning of musical instruments is a matter “that can be debated” with the Hindu Endowment Board and the relevant agencies.

And finally…

The wife of one of the three arrested men has made a police report on 4 February, alleging that a police officer had manhandled her during the incident. Police are investigating.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of the three men being sentenced is high, and Ramachandra Chandramohan may be caned for assaulting a police officer. Whether the officer had revealed his identity prior to the assault is unknown.

But is the public any closer to overturning the ban against musical instruments during religious processions? The answer may be yes, if Minister Shanmugam’s post is any indication. All will depend on the HEB’s negotiations with the police.


Featured image via Today Online
With references from The Straits Times, The Real SingaporeChannel NewsAsia