Police guard rivalry-plagued campus to prevent attacks

Police guard rivalry-plagued campus to prevent attacks

Police guard rivalry-plagued campus to prevent attacks
Crowd control police guard the Uthenthawai Campus in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, when the technical university marked its 90th anniversary on Thursday. A big banner bears a message strongly opposing its relocation. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Two companies of police, including crowd control units, were deployed to prevent student clashes at Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok (RMUTTO), Uthenthawai Campus, during activities marking its 90th anniversary on Thursday.

The police force was also ordered to patrol the campus, the nearby Pathumwan Institute of Technology (PIT) and their vicinity to prevent untoward incidents following violent attacks against students at both technical education institutions.

In the inner-Bangkok vicinities, key locations include the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC), the National Stadium and shopping malls, namely MBK, Siam Center and Siam Paragon.

Many policemen were deployed to Uthenthawai Campus on Phaya Thai Road on Thursday, as activities to celebrate its 90th anniversary were scheduled from 6.30am to noon. Many former and current students attended the event.

Police permitted only one access to the campus, and visitors and their vehicles were searched for weapons at the entrance.

Two visiting students were reportedly arrested during the event after officers found that they had knives in their possession. They were taken to the Pathumwan police station for legal action.

Security measures were implemented in response to several deaths during confrontations between rival student gangs from Uthenthawai Campus and PIT. The two groups have clashed repeatedly over the years.

A first-year student of Uthenthawai Campus died after a shooting in Klong Toey district in November last year. Last Friday two PIT students were attacked in front of the institute. One of them was stabbed to death with seven wounds in his chest and back.

Uthenthawai Campus, located on 20 rai (32,000 square metres) of land leased from Chulalongkorn University (CU) since 1935, saw its lease expire in 2003. Negotiations for the return of the land have been ongoing since 1975, without success.

In 2002, the Treasury Department offered a 36-rai (57,600-square metres) plot of land in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan for the relocation of Uthenthawai Campus, and the government allocated 200 million baht for its construction.

Uthenthaiwai Campus signed an agreement with CU to move out by Sept 30, 2005, and agreed to move to the Bang Phli site in November of the same year. The relocation process faced opposition from students, leading to a stall in the proceedings.

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Supamas Isarabhakdi on Tuesday urged for the quick relocation which she said could help contain the school rivalry.