BEIJING (TIP): Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters cancelled planned talks with the government on electoral reforms on October 3 after violent scuffles broke out in the city’s Mong Kok district after a large group of people challenged the demonstrators who were into the fifth day of their agitation.

The violence prompted agitation leaders to declare they do not want to hold discussions with Hong Kong’s chief secretary Carrie Lam, who had earlier expressed a desire to meet representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Students to discuss “constitutional development matters”.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the protests that swelled to the tens of thousands earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the talks. “The government is demanding the streets be cleared. We call upon all Hong Kong people to immediately come to protect our positions and fight to the end,” the group said in a statement.

Some protesters complained the thousand-odd people in the anti-protest group were stooges of the local government who were trying to create trouble to give the police an opportunity to make large-scale arrests. But the move apparently did not work as the protest leaders moved in, asking the protesters not to get provoked.

The anti-protest group also comprised some shopkeepers who are unhappy the demonstrations have affected their business during the national day holidays, which end on October 7. The Hong Kong police continued to threaten agitators with “serious consequences” if they do not end the sit-in demonstrations and make it difficult for government offices to function.

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Reports suggest the government in Beijing is not able to push the Hong Kong police to go hammer and tongs against the agitators because they have a different training and tradition compared with the Chinese police. The extreme option for the central government in China is to send troops across the border.

An independent observer told TOI that political resentment had come to stay in Hong Kong. “People in the city have seen small strikes but they have now got a taste of a city-wide popular movement for the first time,” the observer said. “The demand for full democracy will continue to rattle the government in Beijing.”