CHAIYAPHUM — Remains of a gunman responsible for the worst mass shooting in Thai history was cremated in a funerary rite away from public eyes on Friday, according to a commander of a military base where he worked.
Lt. Gen. Thanya Kiatisarn told reporters Friday that the body of Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma was cremated in his hometown, Chaiyaphum province. The cremation took place amid angry protests from some on social media who said Jakkrapanth, who killed 29 people in his rampage, did not deserve a proper funeral.
But officials and monks said temples are obliged by religious principles to conduct cremation for any individual regardless of their background.
“The temple is a sanctuary that forgives everything,” Preecha Silpdee, a local administrator in Chiayaphum said at a news conference.
According to media reports, the temple where the cremation took place, Wat Nong Sang, received donations from Thais living as far away as Kansas to help with the cost.
Jakkrapanth was shot dead after a 16-hour standoff with security officers inside Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall. His victims include a toddler, a high school student, women, and two members of an elite police commando team.
Phra Thep Pattipanwatee of Wat Suthat Thepwararam urged Buddhists to put aside whatever hatred they may have for Jakkrapanth for the sake of his family.
“It’s understandable that everyone is angry at the soldier, but if you want to prevent his body from being cremated, think of how his family have also suffered a loss. Put yourself in their shoes,” he said. “Don’t berate them as lowlives but think of it as an act of mercy.”
Wiriya “Oop” Pongarjhan, a showbiz figure with 30,000 followers on Facebook, also wrote several posts over the past week telling his fans to have sympathy for Jakkrapanth’s elderly mother, who was reportedly in shock over her son’s actions.
“I feel so sorry for the mom, it must be like being dead while alive,” Wiriya wrote Thursday, publicly asking for tips on how to help the mom. He later added, “She’s too afraid to go pick up her son’s body because she’s afraid someone will attack the body.”