A cult leader in Thailand who allegedly asked his followers to eat his waste, including excreta, mucus and dandruff, has been arrested by police in the central province of Chaiyaphum.
Thawee Nanra, 75, claimed to be “the father of all religions” and alleged that he could cure illnesses.
He was arrested on Sunday after the police and other local officials raided a campsite in a forest in Tambon Dong Klang of Chaiyaphum’s Khon San district. Many of his followers shouted and jostled with police officials, and chased the car in which he was taken to the police station.
Authorities also found 11 bodies at the spot. Though the reason behind their deaths is not immediately clear, the cult leader’s followers claimed those people fell sick following treatment from Mr Thawee.
Their bodies have been collected for autopsy and further investigation.
The province’s governor, Kraisorn Kongchalard, confirmed the arrest and said coffins with bodies were scattered around the house.
“It’s quite disturbing to see that there are people who believe in such superstition, but this is not only about a personal belief any more. We have dead bodies, and we will have to work with all agencies to establish facts surrounding these individuals,” he said.
At the time of his arrest, Mr Thawee was reportedly surrounded by 30 middle-aged and elderly followers who drank his urine and ate his flaky skin in front of officials.
The man has been arrested on charges of encroachment of forest land and violating the public health law and disease control act. Officials may slap more charges on him in the future.
Mr Thawee has been detained at Khon San Police Station while dozens of his followers camped outside, waiting for his release. He was denied bail on Monday, according to local media reports.
Authorities believe the group had existed for more than four years, enjoying its anonymity because of the remote location of Mr Thawee’s house.
However, a resident of Khon Kaen recently approached a social media figure who specialises in exposing unscrupulous figures after her mother who attended the hermitage didn’t return.
She said that she had later found out followers were asked to eat the mucus, urine, excreta and dandruff of the man who was referred to as “the father” as all his waste could allegedly cure all diseases, The Straits Times reported.
Additional reporting by agencies