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Rails seizure shakes a nation's conscience
Updated: 2005-10-25 16:19

Police has detained eight villagers who seized state-owned rail tracks and other facilities for their own use in Yongdeng County, a less-developed area of Northwest China’s Gansu Province on Sunday.

More than 100 farmers and their children dismantle and grab a 600-metre-long outdated segment of the iron rails in Yongdeng County, in Northwest China’s Gansu Province on October 23, 2005. [sina]

The Lanzhou Morning Post reported Monday that more than 100 farmers and their children began to dismantle and grab a 600-metre-long outdated segment of the iron rails Sunday morning, which the rail authorities no longer used.

A total of six appalling graphics, showing the mass seizure scene, have been shown on the popular sina.com and sohu.com portal Web pages, triggering a wild public response, and a heated discussion.

Interestingly, the majority of the online readers side with the farmers, simply because they might be poor, left far behind the urban noveau rich.

Railway worker sits beside the rail and three farmers dismantle the iron rails not far away. [sina]

One reader sympathizing with the farmers said the villagers “as a matter of fact” went to recycle the rail scrap, “changing wastes into valuables.”

Many questioned the ever-growing wealth gap between the haves and have-nots. However, some criticized the looting residents as not being law-abiding.

The seizure happened at the Da Lu rail station, in Yondeng’s Kushui Town. Hearing the news the 600-metre old trails were to be abandoned, local villagers flocked to the station with pickaxes and ripping bars. Some were witnessed bagging the iron material home.

Scrap iron and steel can be sold at a discount price.

The newspaper also reported the railway workers at the station did not try to stop the farmers from looting. One picture showed a rail worker sitting at the scene, motionless.

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