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Thai police raided the compound of a suspected cult leader in Chaiyaphum province on Sunday, discovering at least 11 bodies during the search. Local authorities were able to raid the compound after the group allegedly violated land encroachment laws and broke Covid-19 restriction laws.
Law enforcement had already been made aware of the group after allegations were shared that the community had been consuming the bodily fluids of its leader. After police made their way onto the camp grounds, police then discovered the remains of 11 bodies in coffins.
However, the group was only able to provide death certificates belonging to five of the 11 of the deceased. Police have ordered autopsies to be conducted to establish the causes of death of the bodies.
The suspected leader of the group has been detained for questioning, but before the arrest many of his followers attempted to stop police from arresting the elderly man during the raid.
The strange group was known in the area to conduct themselves in a religious-like manner, where devotees of the “father,” Thawee Nanra, 75, would do almost anything for the man. Some say he would force his followers to drink his urine, eat his feces, and consume dirt in order to heal physical illnesses.
Cult-like groups are not uncommon in Thailand. In 2019, a ‘rape cult’ on Koh Phangan was revelaed where female students say they were promised spiritual practice only to be coerced into sex or raped by its founder. Last year, an elderly monk decapitated himself with a homemade device in an attempt to reincarnate as a higher being. His followers helped him build the contraption and helped him commit suicide. More widely known is the Dhammakaya group, a massively rich Buddhist sect that critics and former followers call a cult.
The incident has quickly gone viral on social media, with netizens sharing their disgust against the cult’s practices of consuming human waste. The Thai-language hashtag #พระบิดา (#Father) saw over 141,000 mentions as of Monday’s afternoon.
A snippet from television shows a woman, who appears to be a member of the cult, saying that she did not detect any unpleasant odor while consuming the human waste.
“There isn’t even an odor,” the woman remarked. “Only those with a tainted mind may smell it.”
One twitter user pointed out that the one who exposed this cult was Mor Pla, a celebrity volunteer who has helped uncover suspicious religious cases, rather than local authorities.
“It was supposed to be the police that raided this cult in the first place, isn’t it?,” one Twitter user questioned.
Several tweets describe what happened as a failure of Thailand’s education system, notably in the area of hygiene. “I can’t bear the thought of more than half of the country being like this,” another Twitter user wrote.
Thai Enquirer attempted to reach local police in Chaiyaphum for comment, but they did not respond by the time of publishing.
Authorities are still searching the group’s compound for other suspicious material. This is an ongoing story and we will have more details in the coming days.