Three men who were involved in a scuffle with police officers during the Thaipusam procession in 2015 were sentenced today. The three men became involved in a scuffle with the police after officers pulled a music troupe playing the urumi – an Indian drum – that the men had hired out of the Thaipusam procession on 3 Feb 2015, due to the ban on playing musical instruments along the route.
Today, 32-year-old businessman Ramachandra Chandramohan was sentenced to one year and one week in jail and fined S$8,000 after being convicted of seven charges last month. Ramachandra was found guilty of three charges for assaulting three policemen, two for verbally abusing an officer, and one each for disorderly behaviour and insulting a Muslim officer’s religion.
Ramachandra has chosen to serve an additional three weeks and five days in jail instead of paying the hefty fine.
The other two men, 28-year-old operations manager Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy and 33-year-old safety officer Gunasegaran Rajendran, were fined S$8,500 and S$8,000 respectively. Jaya Kumar was convicted of three charges while Gunasegaran was found guilty of two.
District Judge Kessler Soh had found that the police officers involved did not behave hard-handedly or unprofessionally, when convicting the trio last month. When sentencing the men today, the judge said that the “authority of the police (cannot be) undermined by acts of defiance and abuse”.
He also noted that the men “displayed contempt against authority” and that the offensive remarks directed at a Muslim police officer could have “inflamed religious sensitivities”.
The men, who said earlier that they had resigned themselves to whatever sentence the court deemed appropriate, had tried to explain the significance of the one-day Thaipusam festival. Ramachandra had said: “Thaipusam is very sacred. It is part of our culture, tradition…we cannot change our culture because of this.”
While it appeared that Ramachandra had hit the officers unprovoked, he explained that his reaction to the officers was “based on the approach (taken) by the authorities, the way they handled us, the way they spoke”.
Gunasegaran added in court that the trio’s interaction with the policemen was not captured in videos of the scuffle that were played in court: “We are not hooligans. We are responsible citizens, we hold jobs to support our families. Whatever happened…(this is) not the real us. What triggered our behaviour was not captured in those videos.”