Dhammajayo followers clear blockades at temple gate

Dhammajayo followers clear blockades at temple gate

Backhoes are removed from a gate of Wat Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district in Pathum Thani on Wednesday. The vehicles had blocked the entrance since last week. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Backhoes are removed from a gate of Wat Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district in Pathum Thani on Wednesday. The vehicles had blocked the entrance since last week. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Members of Wat Dhammakaya removed backhoes from the main gate of their embattled Pathum Thani temple on Wednesday following a cautious message from the prime minister about his concerns over the mounting confrontation with the Department of Special Investigation.

Residents of tambon Khlong Sam, where the temple is located, moved the heavy machinery blocking access to the main pavilion, leaving only private vehicles inside.

The move followed a suggestion from Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday that plans to storm the temple to arrest abbot Phra Dhammajayo be shelved amid tensions over the DSI's efforts to apprehend him.

The equipment was brought in to block the gate last week by followers protecting the senior monk amid fears of a raid. The standoff intensified after the DSI sought police assistance to enter the grounds and capture the elderly abbot.

Wat Dhammakaya has been under tight security with all gates blocked to outsiders and additional security cameras installed on the fence line. People and all vehicles entering the compound are checked thoroughly by guards.

Phra Dhammajayo was charged with laundering money and receiving stolen property after receiving 1.2 billion baht from Supachai Srisuppa-aksorn, former chairman of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative and treasurer for the temple.

He was named in an arrest warrant after refusing to report to acknowledge the charges with the DSI. The temple has argued the abbot is sick and doctors have advised he remain inside the temple.


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