Man who sparked riot involving dozens along Kampong Bahru Road after prayers jailed

FILE PHOTO: Getty Images

After he was released early from jail following his conviction from illegal assembly and rioting, he extorted money from foreign workers.

Yadwinder Singh, who was also a foreign worker, was arrested and placed on bail. He reoffended when he led a group of men to clash with another group involving more than 50 men along Kampong Bahru Road.

Following his arrest, Yadwinder claimed trial to his charges. Instead of facing the music, he tried to flee by bus to Malaysia but was arrested by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers.

The 26-year-old, who is unemployed, was jailed five years and five months, and given 12 strokes of the cane in the State Courts on Friday (22 March).

He pleaded guilty to one count of failing to present travel documents to an immigration officer on duty before attempting to leave Singapore, one count of being a member of an unlawful assembly, and one count of extortion. One count of criminal trespass was taken into account for his sentencing.

Yadwinder will have to serve an additional 129 days in jail for reoffending after his early release from prison.

In 2012, Yadwinder first came to Singapore to work as a construction worker. He was sentenced to jail after participating in an illegal assembly and a riot in 2015 and 2016, respectively. He was released early on 21 January 2017 and placed on a remission order.

Barely a month later, Yadwinder and four other persons – including a woman – decided to extort money from a group of foreign workers living in a flat by threatening to report them to the Housing Development Board for overcrowding.

On 24 February 2017, the woman pretended to cry and pleaded to a tenant of the unit to let her stay overnight, claiming she had been chased out. She was allowed into the unit.

When the woman entered the unit, Yadwinder and the three other men followed her in. The men behaved aggressively and took photos of the unit before demanding money from the occupants. The men managed to extort $200 from a female victim.

Yadwinder was arrested for the offence and later released on bail when he reoffended.

On 2 April 2017, Yadwinder and a group of up to 31 other people went to pray at the Sikh Temple in Silat Road. After their prayers, Yadwinder and his group gathered at a bus-stop outside of the temple where they armed themselves with wooden planks.

They then ran along Kampong Bahru Road after a group of workers who had earlier attended prayers at the temple. Shouting vulgarities, Yadwinder’s group clashed with the rival group using weapons such belts, wooden planks and poles. The melee caused a disruption to traffic.

Footage of the clash played in court showed a group of some 50 to 60 men who were involved in the fracas.

Several men sustained injuries from the skirmish, including one who sustained a 4cm scalp laceration that extended to the bone and required 18 stitches to close the wound.

After Yadwinder was arrested, he claimed trial to his charges. Two weeks before his trial, despite having his Indian passport impounded, Yadwinder made arrangements to flee to Malaysia.

After the first tranche of his trial, Yadwinder contacted a person by the name of Kumar who made plans for his escape.

On 14 October 2018, Yadwinder arrived at Golden Mile Complex and hid in the right side of cargo bay of a bus. He was instructed to control his breathing by taking short breaths to avoid detection.

The bus later pulled into Tuas Checkpoint for a search by ICA officers. Yadwinder was discovered in the cargo bay and he was placed under arrest along with the bus driver.

Most of the other persons who were involved in the offences with Yadwinder have been dealt with.

Three of them – Gursewak Singh, Malkit Singh and Palwinder Singh – are currently at large after they claimed trial for their rioting charges. When they failed to turn up for a pre-trial conference, a warrant was issued for their arrest.

The prosecution sought a sentence of five years, 10 months’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for Yadwinder. For rioting, he could have been jailed up to 10 years.

In sentencing Yadwinder, District Judge Marvin Bay noted that the riot “spilled into a major road creating a chaotic scene and caused tremendous civic alarm”.

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