Jakarta Police are threatening to pursue criminal charges against a number of young people involved in brawls during Ramadan, following a free-for-all that broke out in a conflict-ridden neighborhood in Central Jakarta last week.
Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, a Jakarta Police spokesman, said on Saturday that the threat of serious jail time was necessary to discourage the culture of violence in the community.
“We are resolved to pursuing full legal recourse in the case of brawls, because these incidents are extremely disruptive to public order and can be deadly if left unresolved,” he said. “To provide a deterrent effect, we will seek criminal charges against the perpetrators, which includes incarcerating them.”
His statement came in response to a brawl that broke out on Friday, shortly after the breaking of the fast, between two neighboring communities in Johar Baru, Central Jakarta.
The fight was the latest in a long-running series of skirmishes between the two groups, and saw young people from both sides throw rocks and bottles at each other. About 200 police officers were called in to break up the violence.
No injuries were reported in the incident, although several officers were hit with bottles. As in most brawls in the capital, no arrests were made, although Rikwanto said this longstanding policy would be reconsidered for Ramadan.
He said the fundamental grievances behind the kind of rivalries seen in Johar Baru were often never addressed, allowing the smallest of provocations to trigger more bouts of violence.
“The triggers are often the most meaningless of things and often stem from misunderstandings,” he said. “It could be the loud revving of an engine in the wrong neighborhood or taunts, which then leads to stone-throwing and an all-out brawl.”
He added that the police were increasing their presence in conflict-prone neighborhoods across the city as well as stepping up their patrols.