Railway builder apologises for village scuffle over land dispute

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 11:09pm

The China Railway 13th Bureau apologised to villagers in Huangchuan after admitting it sent hundreds of workers to rough them up at the weekend, but it stopped short of taking all the blame.

Villagers said they were attacked on Sunday morning by more than 300 uniformed construction workers with metre-long sticks. They were demonstrating against the bureau, which planned to build a new railway line in their village in central China’s Henan province.

Jiang Baoquan, deputy general manager of the bureau’s Nanjing-Xian Railway Engineering Command, confirmed the incident and issued a public apology to the injured villagers, Dahe.cn reported on Wednesday. Jiang, however, said the villagers were also to blame.

The bureau said villagers were "frequently uncooperative" and had tried to block construction by getting in the way of workers. 

Other villages were also accused of “planting trees and digging fish ponds” by the site to reap higher compensation from the land acquisition, the report said.

“The folkways of Huangchuan villagers are too poor, and the social atmosphere there is way too bad,” Jiang told reporters. “The local government tried their best, we tried our best, but in the end such an unfortunate incident happened.”

Liu Min, a bureau official working on the Nanjing-Xian railway project, said they had helped rush injured villagers to hospital and had offered to pay their medical fees.

The land dispute first arose after villagers tried to prevent the bureau from acquiring the land for a new line for the Nanjing-Xian railway. Villagers said the compensation offered to them was too low.

The protesters said the attackers spoke in northeastern Chinese accents and destroyed 30 mobile phones of those who had tried to film the incident. At least 10 people were sent to hospital for injuries after the scuffle, including two who were seriously injured.

Police were called in but were forced to turn back and ask for reinforcements, media reports said.

The China Railway 13th Bureau is a large state-owned construction enterprise and subsidiary of the China Railway Construction Corporation. Prior to 1948, it was part of the People’s Liberation Army Railway Corps No 3 Division.

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