Singapore riot: First visit by Indian worker caused violence

Written by PTI | Singapore | Updated: Dec 12 2013, 18:37pm hrs
Sakthivel Kumaravelu, an Indian who rarely went to Singapore's Little India area visited it last Sunday, his first in more than two months, and it proved fatal - for him and the violence generated caused much damage on the ground and to the city-state's reputation.

Kumaravelu's death triggered the riot in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break.

"Saktivel was a very good man," said the roommate of 33-year construction worker, giving his name as Kumar.

"He didn't talk a lot but we would drink outside the dorm and makan (eat in Malay) together on Saturdays," The Straits Times quoted Kumar, 30, Sakthivel's co-worker.

Sakthivel, who died in a bus accident, was buried yesterday in his village Chattiram, some 400 km from Chennai.

Sakthivel's demise might have led to the riot, resulting in the worst violence and damage Singapore's streets have seen in decades, but it has also prompted Singaporeans to come forward with offers to help his family, The Straits Times report said.

Several groups have been rallying together to offer condolences and raise funds for Sakthivel's next of kin, his 53-year old mother Rajalakshmi and younger brother Ramesh, 25, who has a brain injury.

Civic minded Singaporeans were raising funds for Sakthivel's family because he came to Singapore all the way to raise money for his family and now they have lost their sole breadwinner.

All cash collected would be channeled through non-governmental organisation Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC), which is in touch with Sakthivel's family in India.

MWC executive director Bernard Menon said the foreign workers' support NGO has received some half a dozen similar donation offers.

Media artist Suresh Vanaz has raised SGD 1,800 since Monday through social media appeals.

Vanaz, 34, said he plans to chip in another SGD 1,200 from his own pocket for the family.

Two Singaporean students at University of Liverpool in Britain have set up a 24-day crowd-funding campaign on online platform Indiegogo, among others.