A clash at a worker’s dormitory in Tuas between two illegal cigarette syndicates run by Bangladeshi nationals resulted in the death of one syndicate leader in 2016, a district court heard on Monday (5 November).
For his part in the riot, Ripon Hasan Shahidullah Bhuiyan, 36, was jailed for three years and given six strokes of the cane.
Ripon, who was a work permit holder employed as a scaffolding worker at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to one charge of rioting.
Group staged takeover
The court heard that Ripon was part of a contraband cigarette syndicate that had overall control of illegal cigarette sales at Tuas South Avenue 6.
The victim, Munshi Abdur Rahim, 32, was one of the leaders of another contraband cigarette group.
Since early September 2016, Munshi’s group had been vying with Ripon’s group for control of contraband cigarette sales, the court heard.
On 23 September 2016, a fight broke out between the two groups and one member of Munshi’s group was injured.
The next day, sometime after 7pm, a member of Ripon’s group was in the area of No. 69 Tuas South Avenue 1, waiting to collect contraband cigarettes for sale when he was approached by Munshi’s group.
They assaulted him and told him to leave, then took over control of the area.
Rioters armed themselves
When news of the takeover reached Ripon’s group, members of the group were told to buy weapons and arm themselves before they rallied at the car park at No. 69 Tuas South Avenue 1.
Between 8.30pm and 9.40pm, Ripon and more than 23 others from the group gathered, most with weapons including knives, choppers and wooden sticks.
Shortly after, they joined another four members of their group at Tuas View Dormitory at 70 Tuas South Avenue 1.
There, the rioters surrounded Munshi and his friend. One of the rioters “grabbed (Munshi’s) shirt by the collar and demanded to know who allowed him to sell cigarettes at the car park,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan.
Two of the rioters slashed Munshi’s back with choppers and he ran into a crowd of people. Meanwhile, Munshi’s friend ran away to the opposite side of the carpark.
Shortly after, Munshi fell onto the ground and was further attacked repeatedly by the same two rioters and another member of their group with choppers.
Once the attack was over, the rioters fled.
Victim’s condition deteriorated
At about 9.50pm, Munshi called the police and reported, “People chopped me with knife (sic).”
A policeman who arrived about three minutes later found Munshi lying on the ground crying out for help, with his clothes soaked with blood.
The officer rendered first aid using some towels and a first aid kit. However, while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Munshi’s condition deteriorated.
He was sent to hospital semi-conscious at about 10.05pm, but died from severe bleeding from wounds on his left leg and back at about 11pm.
Rioters evaded police
At around midnight that day, eight group members including Ripon met at car park C2 at East Coast Park.
Knowing that the police would be looking for them, one of the group members instructed them not to return to their dormitories.
Ripon and four others later checked into a hotel in Geylang. At about 11.55am the next day, policemen raided the hotel and arrested the men.
One accomplice, Miah Mohammad Rasal, 30, has been sentenced to three years’ jail with six strokes of the cane. The cases against seven other rioters are pending.
For rioting, Ripon could have been jailed for up to seven years.
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