3 nabbed over scuffle with cops during Thaipusam procession
THREE Singaporean men have been arrested for a scuffle with police officers along Desker Road, during a Thaipusam procession on Tuesday.
The three men, aged 33, 32, and 28, are said to have hurled vulgarities at officers and injured one of them. Videos of the scuffle have been making the rounds online.
One video showed the tense situation in Desker Road during the procession, and officers and participants were seen pushing and shouting at each other.
Netizens have questioned the behaviour of the officers and whether they used excessive force.
In a statement yesterday, the police said that, during the procession at around 6.50pm, organisers asked a group to stop playing drums at the junction of Serangoon Road and Desker Road as it was not allowed, according to the police permit for the event.
But the group did not listen, so the police were called in.
"When police officers were speaking to the group, a 33-year-old man from a separate group came forward and confronted the police officers in a rowdy manner. Despite numerous warnings to calm down, he persisted with his disorderly behaviour and was placed under arrest," said a police spokesman.
As the man was being arrested, two other men, aged 32 and 28, came forward to stop the arrest. The 32-year-old assaulted three officers, and one officer was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
"All three men were believed to have been drinking earlier, as they smelt strongly of alcohol," added the police.
Investigations against the three men are ongoing.
The police added that the ban on musical instruments during processions is not new, and has been in place since 1973. This is "to deter public disorder, which may be caused by rivalries between groups and to minimise the impact of the procession along the procession route".
The police have appealed for witnesses of the incident to provide more information.
Member of Parliament Vikram Nair, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said that law and order need to be maintained "even as we take part in our traditional celebrations".
"We live in a multiracial community and it is important for us to consider others in the vicinity," he said.
"I believe the guidelines by the Hindu Endowments Board were put up because of complaints from residents along the procession route. Of course, officers have wide discretion, but (they) shouldn't use force unnecessarily."
Mr Nair added that he had not seen the video of the scuffle, but if complaints were made about the unnecessary use of force, "the police will usually look into it".