2016-07-12 12:58:56

A township mayor in eastern China’s Zhejiang province sustained burn injuries on Monday morning after villagers threw gasoline on him during a land acquisition dispute, according to a report by news portal Sohu.com.

The incident happened in Xiafang Village, which is administered by Wantian Township. Both are part of the city of Quzhou in Zhejiang.

According to a statement released on Tuesday afternoon on a local government website, the victim in the accident was the mayor of Wantian Township, Mei Jianfeng. He was reportedly busy with measurements for a project related to the dikes along the nearby Qu River when the incident occurred. The report said the police have initiated an investigation and that some of the suspects have been arrested. It also said Mei was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment after the incident.

A villager surnamed Fang told Sixth Tone that this was not an isolated incident but a months-long conflict between the villagers and the local government. At core of the conflict is the amount of compensation the villagers are to receive for the land that the government will repurpose.

As for Monday’s incident, Fang said he first witnessed Mei push down a 90-year-old man, and that one of the villagers then threw a bottle with gasoline toward Mei. The gasoline caught fire due to incense the protesters had been burning in their attempt to beg the government for more compensation. “The government wants to make a profit from the land acquisition and refuses to pay villagers the compensation they deserve,” said Fang.

The Wantian Township government could not be reached for comment when Sixth Tone attempted to contact them on Tuesday afternoon.

Fang added that negotiations between the villagers and local government had failed previously, which had led to multiple clashes between villagers and government representatives.

Land requisitions and compensation settlements regularly lead to clashes and casualties in China. In two similar cases, the body of a 60-year-old woman was found earlier this month in the rubble of her house after it was demolished, and 60 villagers were injured in large-scale clashes in northern China in 2014.

Additional reporting by Fu Danni and Wang Lianzhang.

(Header image: A video screenshot shows a local mayor on fire after being doused in gasoline by an angry protester, Quzhou, Zhejiang province, July 11, 2016.)