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Electrified fence at forest temple

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Electrified fence at forest temple | Thaiger

LOPBURI: More than 200 people from Baan Nong Kam in Lopburi’s Muang District held a protest June 27 to drive out a local abbot, whom they accused of setting up an electrified fence to keep villagers away from his forest temple.

One of the protest leaders, 58-year-old Charoen Wongpao, told reporters that Phra Khru Palatwiroj Ophaso, Abbot of Wat Suwanahong Forest, liked to chase away villagers who went foraging in the woods.

People from the village had been collecting plants growing in the area for more than a century before Phra Khru Palatwiroj arrived, K. Charoen said, but now they were not allowed to even collect tamarind growing near the temple.

Although villagers were persevering with the abbot’s isolationist antics, they were sparked into action when he ordered the erection of a barbed-wire fence around the temple.

At night, the abbot connected the fence to an electric supply of sufficient voltage to give nasty electric shocks to anyone unfortunate enough to bump into it, K. Charoen said.

The fence runs right next to a road, making it dangerous for villagers to walk along, he added.

Rather than the temple serving as a community center or spiritual retreat, most local residents were afraid to even approach it, K. Charoen complained.

Phra Khru Palatwiroj defended himself by saying that he had installed the menacing security measures as a way of attaining some peace and quiet.

In the past he had seen strangers coming and going at night. After 13 dogs in the area had been poisoned, he decided to take action, the abbot explained.

Phra Khru Palatwiroj met representatives from the village mob to try and bring an end to the protests.

In the end they agreed that Phra Khru Palatwiroj would move the fence back from the road so villagers were not endangered and that he would explain to villagers why the fence was needed in the first place.

 

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