Henderson Land Development Co. (00012.HK) has encountered strong resistance from a group of villagers in New Territories as the property developer sought to take control of some farmland that it bought there almost a decade ago.
On Monday, Henderson sent dozens of security guards to seal off a 5,500 square-foot site in Ma Shi Po Village in Fanling, sparking angry protests from some locals and their supporters.
As the security guards began erecting a wire fence, the demonstrators got into scuffles with them, prompting the police to swing into action, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Four people were taken into custody in the incident that took place early in the morning.
Henderson Land, which holds the biggest land reserve in New Territories, has been struggling to take possession of the Shi Po site after purchasing it nine years ago.
After an unsuccessful attempt last month, the developer’s patience ran thin, prompting it to try to take possession by force.
But protesters cut off the fences and barged into the site before engaging in clashes with the security guards.
The incident led to some people suffering injuries.
The violence led the police, who had been deployed at the scene to maintain order, to arrest three men and one woman.
Among those detained was the father of the owner of the nearby Mapopo Community Farm, which was the tenant of the land before it was sold to Henderson, according to Apple Daily.
The four, who were charged with criminal damage and obstructing police officers in the execution of their duties, were granted bail later in the afternoon.
Wong Wing-cheung, a manager at Henderson’s development department, said villagers had been notified, through letters issued last month, that the land would be repossessed and that the locals should approach the court if they have any problems with an official order.
Some villagers claimed that the boundary of the land in question was not clearly set, and that they are waiting for a court reply to their enquiry as to whether the repossession process is legitimate.
They also accused the government of being behind Henderson’s move, seeing it as part of efforts to push a controversial development plan for northeast New Territories.
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