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Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, Indian-origin Woman in Singapore Faces Charges for Refusing to Wear Face Mask

Representative image. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Representative image. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Retnamswamy is the second person of Indian origin to be remanded at the IMH for psychiatric evaluation after the incident involving face masks.

  • PTI Singapore
  • Last Updated: May 9, 2020, 3:43 PM IST
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A 40-year-old Indian-origin woman in Singapore was charged with five counts, including use of criminal force, in a court here on Saturday for refusing to wear a face mask for protection against COVID-19 and assaulting a police officer who tried to ascertain her identity.

Kasturi Govindasamy Retnamswamy was arrested after the incident that happened at a shopping mall on May 7 and was captured on video.

Retnamswamy, who is a Singaporean, was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric evaluation after the incident, reported The Straits Times.

She was taken to a court on Saturday and faced five charges, including use of abusive words and criminal force against a public servant.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 22 after her remand in the IMH.

According to the police statement on Friday, the woman insulted the mall staff and hurled abuses at a security officer who was trying to get her to put on her mask correctly.

The widely-shared video of the incident shows a woman taunting a mall employee, demanding that he removes his face mask to speak to her.

The mall staff informed the police and when the officers requested to see her identity, she allegedly started peeling off the address sticker on her identity card.

"When one of the police officers tried to stop her, the woman assaulted the police officer and remained uncooperative," said the police, noting that the woman had been fined SGD 300 (USD 212) on April 29 for not wearing a mask at the same mall.

"Everyone should take the circuit breaker measures seriously. The police will not tolerate such blatant disregard of the law and wilful breaches of safe distancing measures," the police said.

Retnamswamy is the second person of Indian origin to be remanded at the IMH for psychiatric evaluation after the incident involving face masks.

Paramjeet Kaur, 40, who made headlines after videos emerged of her claiming to be a "sovereign" when confronted for not wearing a mask in public, was charged on May 5 with one count of being a public nuisance and three counts of violating COVID-19 rules.

Kaur, a Singaporean, will attend her next court hearing on May 19.

Those convicted of voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from carrying out public duties will be liable to a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine or caning, provided that in exceptional circumstances imprisonment need not be imposed.

If found guilty of harassment by using insulting or abusive language, perpetrators face up to six months in jail and fine up to SGD 5,000 (USD 3,539) or both.


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