Little India riot

Pictures by: 
Jonathan Choo
Report by: 
Zaihan Mohd Yusof

The stretch of Race Course Road near Buffalo Road resembled a battlefield last night. Some police cars had been overturned and others were in flames. 
 
A private bus that was involved in a fatal accident earlier was badly damaged, as was a Red Rhino from the Singapore Civil Defence Force. 
 
Video footage posted on social media show an angry mob smashing the front windscreen of the bus. 
 
They had apparently been angered by the death of a pedestrian who was hit by the bus. 
 
When The New Paper team arrived at the scene at about 10.45pm, the area looked as though it was under control. 
 
My colleague, photojournalist Jonathan Choo, and I were soon to discover how wrong we were. 
 
Over the next hour, as the police, many of whom were in riot gear, tried to regain control of the street, we found ourselves in the middle of a running battle. 
 
Mr Choo said: “In my 32 years as a photographer, I had never experienced something like this on home soil. 
 
I’m still shaking from being chased by the mob.” He had got a little too close to a group of men who were hurling rocks, broken bottles and other objects at a line of policemen which had formed some 50m away. 
 
“Suddenly, one man turned and tried to grab my camera,” Mr Choo, 56, said. “The next thing I knew, more of his friends were surrounding and shouting at me.”
 
They were angry that Mr Choo was taking pictures of them. 
 
“As I ran away, I could hear flying objects hitting the ground behind me.” I thought I was in a safer position standing near the police line. 
 
After all, an officer had told me it was safe there.   
 
A minute later, we were both running from the area as rocks began raining down near us. 
 
I escaped unhurt and found myself in Rotan Lane, off Race Course Road, where I met Mr Muhd Ridhuan, who had told me what had sparked the riot. 
 
“I heard some men shouting, ‘Who is going to be responsible for that man’s life?’” said the 54-year-old senior bank analyst who had just finished dinner with friends at a Race Course Road restaurant at 10pm. 
 
After 11pm, more police reinforcements, including police dogs and plainclothes officers, arrived. 
 
They combed the nearby alleys and shouted at the crowd to disperse. As I was interviewing witnesses on Chander Road, I saw a mob of angry men running towards me. 
 
Fortunately, a hand grabbed my shirt collar from behind and pulled me into a coffee shop. Identifying himself as the owner of Kian Heng coffee shop, he locked his shop’s gate and asked me in Malay: “Young man, are you crazy walking around in the open? 
 
“For the last hour, they’ve been running wildly outside my shop and causing trouble. One look and they’ll know you’re an outsider. It’s safer to stay in my shop.” 
 
After about 20 minutes, I left to find Mr Choo. It took an hour to do so. 
 
By about midnight, the streets had become relatively quiet, except for a few defiant men still lobbing objects at riot police from across Serangoon Road. 

Here are some of the pictures of the mayhem that occurred.

The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on December 9 and 10, 2013.