So brutal and bloody was the ensuing crackdown that only recently have the authorities and public at large felt comfortable about discussing the situation.
The BigChilli has an extremely rare copy of the Bangkok World published and distributed on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 6, 1976, and is reproducing here the newspaper’s version of events as they appeared on its front page and subsequent pages.
7.05 am. Police officers claimed that the police firepower was inferior to that of the demonstrators and called for better weapons. Two policemen were injured by gunfire.
7.30 am. Shots were fired from inside (Thammasat) university. Shooting became more frequent at the university’s front gate.
7.35 am. Police marksmen received orders to shoot back at gunmen
from inside the university only when the target was clearly visible.
7.55 am. Members of right-wing counter-protestors attempted to climb the fence and enter the university but were driven back by gunfire.
8.05 am. About 20 students retreated to the riverside with arms.
8.22 am. A policeman was injured after being hit by gunfire from the Faculty of Law building.
9.30 am. Five or six vehicles left Thammasat University campus, reportedly carrying drums of petrol for the purpose of burning down Wat Bovorn Nives.
10 am. A large number of students arrested inside the Thammasat University campus were taken to the university football field and ordered to lie face down on the grass for weapon searches.
Assistant Police Chief Pol Lt Gen Chamras Mangklarat revealed that a number of Vietnamese-looking men had been arrested within the campus.
10.25 am. The bodies of three students were burned by counter-protestors.
10.35 am. The police chief said that the police were quite capable of handling the situation and that no help was needed from the military.
FOOTNOTE: The now defunct Bangkok World was the sister newspaper of the Bangkok Post, which for the only time in its 72-year existence did not appear on the following day and therefore denied readers updates of the terrible events that had taken place in the city 24 hours earlier.
The students resisted by firing machineguns and other weapons at police after the police rammed the university gate open using a truck and moved forward into the university campus.
Hospitals reported that they had at least 8 bodies and reports from inside the campus said that there were 25 more which had not yet been moved.
Secretary-General of National Student Centre of Thailand Sutham Saengprathum and six other NSCT leaders were arrested by police when they went to Prime Minister M.R. Seni’s residence at Ekkamai this morning. They were being held at Crime Suppression Division where Police Chief Srisuk Mahinthorathep used it as a special centre to handle the situation.
Police also arrested over 200 students who tried to flee Thammasat.
Deputy Police Chief Gen Chumpol Lohachala announced at noon that police had taken over control of the University apart from at two points. Police would try to take these over this afternoon.
It was reported that a number of 1,000 to 1,500 students remained in the campus when police took action this morning.
Police Chief Srisuk said he ordered police to clear Thammasat this morning because there had been shootings in the campus last night and the sounds of the gunshots convinced him that there were high power weapons in the university.
He also said that he would seek an approval from the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok today.
The Government also announced that the six arrested NSCT leaders would be sent for trial immediately on charges of lese majeste for the group’s mock hanging on Monday in which a student heading a strong resemblance to an important member to the Royal family was “hanged.”
The Prime Minister told the Press this morning that Mr Sutham and six other NSCT leaders went to see him at his house in order to settle the lese majeste charge they faced but he was not at home at that time and had ordered the police chief to arrest them.
Over 10,000 people were gathering around Sanam Luang this morning and some allegedly lynched students who were trying to escape.
A body of a girl was found floating in the Chao Phya River near Thammasat. She apparently jumped into the river to flee the battle scene but failed to swim across.
Two students were reported to have been beaten up to death by the mob and then hanged on trees at Sanam Luang while a wounded student who was being taken out from Thammasat University was snatched away by the angry mob who kicked him to death.
Four other students who escaped were also allegedly lynched by the mob, (who) dowsed their bodies with gasoline and burnt.
Police Maj-Gen Charoenrith Chamrasromeran called on Prime Minister M.R. Seni at Government House this morning and told him that he called for a rally of Village Scouts throughout the country today as a support to the Government to enforce law and order in the country.
Gen Charoenrith, who is chairman of the Village Scouts movement in the country, said that there would be as many as 200,000 Village Scouts joining the rally today.
Siriraj Hospital reported that three dead bodies and 46 wounded persons were taken to the hospital while Police Hospital reported that there were three dead and 19 wounded at the hospital.
Vajira Hospital reported that there was one dead body and 20 wounded persons.
Police will launch separate charges against the arrested students ranging from lese majeste to rioting.
Police reported that a policeman was killed and some 20 others wounded in the operation this morning.
The Vocational Student Centre of Thailand issued a statement this morning calling for the Government to abolish Thammasat University.
The Patriotic Group also issued a statement demanding Prime Minister Seni sack Surin Masdit, Damrong Latthapipat, Chuan Leekpai and Veera Musikaphong from the Government and reinstate Samak Sunthrovej and Somboon Sirithorn.
They also demanded for the Government to arrest Rector of Thammasat University Dr Puey Ungpakorn and all executive members of the Socialist Party of Thailand and enforce the Anti Communist Law sternly.
(Many other reports on this event have been written over the years, each offering a new perspective to what actually happened).