SECURITY CONCERNS PROMPT COMPULSORY ID CHECKS AROUND GRAND PALACE — From today, mourners will have to show their national identity cards to police to enter the vicinity, and 27 roads around Sanam Luang will be closed as authorities cope with the enormous influx of mourners.
“We have to screen people, as dishonest people from other nations have stolen assets from our people in Sanam Luang,” Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Maj-General Sompong Chingduang said.
Thousands of mourners have made a pilgrimage to the Grand Palace every day since the passing of much-revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej for a chance to pay their respects before his portrait during the 15 days since his demise.
The late King’s body is now resting inside the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall of the Grand Palace, which will be open to members of the public until further notice.
During the past weekend, the turnout of mourners was so huge that lines to enter the Throne Hall were several kilometres long.
As well as dealing with hordes of grief-stricken mourners, police are concerned small-time criminals would be taking advantage of the crowds and thousands of homeless people are swarming into the area to get free food from volunteers that is intended for mourners.
Sompong yesterday explained that if any Thai resident forgot to bring along their national identification card, they would have to register with police before they can enter the area.
He said that it was clear now that the crowds will be much bigger on weekends than weekdays, so authorities have to close off some roads and urge mourners to come to the Grand Palace via public transport.
First Army Area commander Lt-General Apirach Kongsompong, who also heads the joint safety operation center, said yesterday that he had already asked the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to take care of homeless people.
“About 12,000 homeless people from many areas come to Sanam Luang each day to get free food,” Apirach pointed out.
After emerging from a meeting with the joint safety operation center, the ministry’s inspector-general Narong Kongkham said homeless people would be invited to stay at the Mitmaitree Home in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district where they could get free shelter and food.
“We will strictly screen people in Sanam Luang over the next two weeks. If you find someone that looks like a person living in a public area, please notify the nearest officials,” Narong said.
Apirach suggested that free food should be provided in the Sanam Luang area only during certain times of the day.
First Army Area deputy commander Maj-General Pongsawat Phannachit said Apirach also recommended that separate tents be set up to provide free food to cash-strapped people so they do not get in line with mourners.
Pongsawat also encouraged mourners to observe people around them as some might have mental problems.
He said officials from the Mental Health Department were on standby to help handle such persons.
The Volunteers for Dad has announced that its permanent tents will suspend operations on November 6, 11, 12, and 13 as rehearsal and conferral ceremonies for graduates of the nearby Thammasat University will take place.
“During those days, we will have to operate from temporary tents in the middle of Sanam Luang instead,” the group’s assistant director, Vikorn Permpuak, said.
credit DT BKK