Buriram villagers accuse ex-principal of land grab

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

Villagers in Nong Mai Ngam, Lahan Sai District, Buriram Province, submitted evidence to the Buriram Provincial Land Reform Office, accusing a former school principal of seizing their agricultural land after they failed to repay loans.

The villagers borrowed money from the ex-school principal but could not repay it in time, leading to the confiscation of their Sor Por Kor land, ranging from 3 to 60 rai per individual. Despite attempts to repay the loans with interest to reclaim their land, the principal demanded exorbitant amounts far exceeding the initial loans. One villager borrowed 45,000 baht but was asked to repay 400,000 baht to get the land back, leaving him financially incapable of meeting the demand.

Some villagers, distressed by losing their land, have even fallen ill. They fear taking any action and have turned to the Land Reform Office for assistance since they no longer have access to their agricultural land. Chalerm, a 67 year old resident of Ban Sai Tree 16 in Nong Mai Ngam, is among those affected.

Chalerm shared that he was friends with the former principal and initially borrowed 15,000 baht in 2006, using his Sor Por Kor land as collateral. Over the next few months, he borrowed an additional 20,000 baht and another 10,000 baht, bringing the total to 45,000 baht.

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Since Chalerm could not repay the loan, he allowed the former principal to use his 3 rai of Sor Por Kor land for nearly 20 years. Chalerm once offered to repay the principal 150,000 baht, including interest, to reclaim his land, but the principal demanded 400,000 baht, citing the long duration. Chalerm, unable to meet this demand, sought help from the Land Reform Office to recover his land.

Upon learning about the complaints, the former principal began visiting the homes of the affected villagers, pressuring them to sign lease agreements for fear of legal repercussions. When the villagers refused, he resorted to bringing relatives to intimidate them, causing widespread fear among the villagers.

Buriram Provincial Land Reform Officer Prasert Kanchanakiatkul stated that lawyers from the Land Reform Office would investigate the villagers’ claims. If the allegations are confirmed, appropriate legal action will be taken against the former principal, reported KhaoSod.

“We will thoroughly examine the situation and ensure that justice is served in accordance with the law.”

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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