The trial of three men who allegedly attacked police officers and behaved in a disorderly manner during the Thaipusam procession last year started in the State Courts yesterday.
Ramachandra Chandramohan, 34, faces seven charges, the most among the trio. He is said to have voluntarily caused hurt to three police officers, behaved disorderly, made abusive remarks and wounded the religious feelings of an officer.
Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 29, faces three charges of behaving in a disorderly manner, verbally abusing a police officer and obstructing officers from discharging their duties.
Gunasegaran Rajendran, 35, faces two charges of behaving in a disorderly manner and of making comments with the deliberate intention to wound the religious feelings of a police officer while inside a police van.
Yesterday, three video clips of the incident on Feb 3 were played in court. The footage showed the scuffle between the three men and several police officers from varying angles, including how the men were asked to move to the side of the road, among other things.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Patrick Chan Wai Hoong, who was a prosecution witness, testified that the trio were aggressive and had shouted at the top of their voice.
He noted that Ramachandra punched a police officer on his right cheek and shouted that this was the “result of harassing my brother”.
Jaya Kumar also breached the human cordon created by the police officers when he tried to obstruct the police from arresting Gunasegaran, said ASP Chan.
During cross-examination, the trio, who were unrepresented, tried to dispute ASP Chan’s testimony.
Ramachandra claimed that he was with his family when officers who were not wearing any identification stepped forward. “There is an allegation here that I punched one of the officers. This is a very serious allegation against me, your Honour. Why would I want to commit such an act when I am with my family at the Thaipusam festival?” he said.
Gunasegaran also disputed ASP Chan’s testimony that at one point during the incident, the trio refused to leave and created a scene when officers tried to calm them down. He claimed that he was backing away to rejoin the kavadi procession.
The trial continues today.
After news of the incident broke last year, the issue of why the playing of musical instruments was banned during the Thaipusam procession was brought up again by some netizens. This prompted Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam and Trade and Industry Minister (Industry) S Iswaran to comment on Facebook, with the former stressing that Hindus are not discriminated against and have been given a special privilege not enjoyed by others.
For the Thaipusam procession this year, the authorities allowed certified musicians to play religious music “live” for devotees at three spots — the first time in 42 years.