Bangkok (AP) — Police in northeastern Thailand have arrested a self-proclaimed saint living in the forest. The believer is said to have worshiped the corpse and consumed fluid as a cure for the disease.
Deep in the jungle of Chaiyaphum, there was a chaotic scene when a policeman attacked a 75-year-old Taweenanra thatched-roof house on Sunday. When a bearded, shirtless, white-haired man was taken to a police car, his supporters screamed and quarreled with the police.
Police said they had found 11 bodies on the premises, and local media said they were believed to be the bodies of his followers.
Governor Kraisorn Kongchalad said that Thawee has at least 12 followers. Coffins with bodies were scattered all over the house. Believers reportedly told authorities that the leader’s urine and sputum were believed to be a cure for the disease.
Kraisorn said he was shocked to discover that such practices continue today.
“It’s very disturbing to see people who believe in such superstitions. But this is no longer just a personal belief. We have corpses and establish the facts surrounding these individuals. We will have to work with all the institutions to do this. “
Although Thailand’s population is overwhelmingly Buddhist, many have non-religious beliefs, such as local spiritual worship and fear of ghosts.
Authorities believe that the group had existed for more than four years without anyone noticing, as the location of the leader’s home was in a remote forest area away from other communities.
However, their anonymity ended after one daughter of a believer complained to a social media celebrity whose specialty exposed a malicious religious person.
Thawee was initially charged with invading the woodlands. His house was said to be on public land. Also, the disease management law used to fight the coronavirus in the last two years has banned illegal rallies.
Local media reported that he was denied bail on Monday.
Police say they are investigating other allegations, including the illegal disposal of the body.