Angered students rioted in Central China this week, clashing against police and overturning cars after city inspectors beat a female student who had set up a street stall, a human rights group said Thursday.
Hundreds of police were called for backup as students from three universities surrounded the two inspectors who had assaulted the student and knocked out her front teeth Wednesday night, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement.
The students overturned a police car and another belonging to the city inspectors in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, the statement said. One car was set on fire in the riot that lasted for about four hours.
The Hong Kong-based rights group said five students were taken away by police, but it was not clear if they were detained.
The local Dahe newspaper, citing information from the city government, said authorities met overnight to decide on punishment for the inspectors involved. Six were detained, two were demoted and four received administrative discipline, the newspaper said.
In the newspaper's account of the events, residents and students came out to watch after inspectors confronted the female student. In the process, conflict broke out between inspectors and some "individual" students and citizens.
Officials with the city police, public security bureau, Communist party and hospitals all said they were "unclear" or "not aware" of the riot.
Campus unrest is treated with extreme sensitivity in China, where 1989 student pro-democracy protests led to the bloody military crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
College students rioted in Zhengzhou last year, after administrative changes made diplomas less prestigious for students at the Shengda Economics, Trade and Management College. They smashed offices and set fires after what they said were broken promises that they would get degrees from the better-known Zhengzhou University, which Shengda is affiliated with.