Singapore — The man who came forward on Friday claiming to be the Little India riot “hero” in the video has retracted his claim after seeing clearer footage of the video, said reports.
The man, 38-year-old Thangaval Govindarasu from Chennai, India, said he saw a screen capture of the man in a plaid shirt in a Thursday newspaper which he thought was himself, but later realized it was another man wearing a similar shirt. He says it was a misunderstanding.
He said he did not even know about the search for the “hero” in the video as he hardly has access to newspapers. And he only saw the screen capture when his boss, upon seeing the photo in the paper, asked him if it was him in the picture.
He says that, like the man in the video, he was at the scene of the riot that night and had helped to ward off the rioters and assisted the injured bus timekeeper, Wong Geck Woon, to safety.
The video showed a man who looked similar to Mr. Govindarasu trying to fend off two rioters who were attacking a bus during the melee in Little India last Sunday night.
Mr. Thangaval, who has been working in Singapore as an electrician for 11 years, said he was walking by alone when the riot erupted after an Indian man was hit and killed by a bus.
A mob started throwing stones, beer bottles and sticks at the windscreen of the bus, and Madam Wong was crouching near the ground and shielding her face with her hands.
“I could not control myself. I kept shouting at the crowd ‘Let the policemen settle this’, but they did not listen,” he said.
“I was definitely scared, but I saw the girl and I wanted to remove the people from the girl. I thought to myself: ‘What if this was my mother or my wife?’ Too many angry people were there”.
He said after he made sure Madam Wong got away to safety, he walked away unharmed. Nobody came after him for interfering in spite of the mob’s anger.
He then took a bus home.
Shopowners who came forward saying they recognized the man in the video also said it was not Mr.Thangaval.
One shopowner said she has seen the video “hero”, as he is a regular customer. But she did not know his name or occupation.
Other shopowners said they have not seen the “hero” since the night of the riot.
The bus timekeeper told The Straits Times that Mr. Thangaval is of a similar build to the man in the video, but she is unsure if he was there because it was so chaotic and her vision was blurry at the time.
She said she was sure he is not the “hero” of the video, though, because that man was injured in the aftermath of the incident.