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Changsha officials are investigating allegations that an undercover reporter had been beaten up by staff members of a homeless shelter this week, Chinese media reported on Thursday.
The reporter, identified as Dai Peng from the Sanxiang Metropolis Daily, had been brought to the Changsha Shelter Centre by police on Monday after he posed as a deaf homeless man stranded on a roadway.
Dai had intended to carry out an investigation over the death of a homeless man who was found frozen under a bridge in the city last Thursday.
Dai said that after the police left, he was interrogated by the shelter’s staff and asked repeatedly for his name, despite telling them he was deaf. He was then kicked to the ground and beaten.
A video released by the shelter from its closed-circuit video recording was posted on news website voc.com.cn. The 4½-minute clip showed a group of men, assumed to be the shelter’s staff, pinning Dai to the ground.
The shelter denied Dai’s allegations and maintained they were applying “temporary restraining measures” after Dai acted suspiciously and refused to co-operate.
The Changsha Civil Affairs Bureau said on Wednesday that security staff suspected Dai of carrying “bags of dangerous items” and encountered “strong resistance” from Dai when they tried to apprehend him.
The shelter said they made Dai leave after finding a voice recorder in his pocket. According to Dai, he was forced to sign a document to confirm he had “volunteered” to leave.
Dai was reporting on why homeless people in Changsha preferred to remain homeless in the cold rather than be admitted to government-run shelters.
Rumours have spread in recent years of maltreatment and abuse at homeless shelters in several Chinese cities.