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Embassy cautions Indians in Bangkok

Indian tourists and business visitors in restive Thailand were asked to “take abundant precautions” as the junta has imposed widespread restrictions to quell dissent following the coup last Thursday.

“Public transport, including from and to the airport, is likely to be affected from 8pm onwards. It is strongly advised that all Indian tourists and residents in Thailand take abundant precautions for their safety, including avoiding movement during the prohibited period and to areas where demonstrations, political gatherings, marches, etc., are likely to take place,” read an advisory issued by the Indian embassy in Bangkok.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power on Thursday, saying the military had to restore order after months of demonstrations against the elected government.

The military rulers were firmly in charge on Tuesday with endorsement from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a crucial seal of legitimacy in a country where the monarchy is the most important institution.

Bangkok is under curfew from 10pm till 5am with soldiers on watch at every intersection on all streets.

“Those who have flights at night are advised to reach the airport well before curfew time and/or ask their hotel to coordinate transport with the military,” the advisory states.

Calcutta-based businessman Anil Tiwari, who reached Bangkok on May 25 on a business trip, said the bustling Thai capital looked empty after sunset. “I have not seen any trouble. But there are soldiers at shopping malls and government institutions. Shops down shutters early. We are getting back to the hotel by evening,” he said over the phone on Tuesday.

Tour operators in Calcutta said tourists were avoiding Bangkok after the military takeover. “Many are changing their travel plans, opting for island destinations in Thailand where things are relatively peaceful. Some have cancelled their holiday bookings,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, east, Travel Agents Federation of India.

Subhas Sircar, an executive with a private firm in Singapore, reached Thailand’s east coast hotspot Koh Samui on Tuesday without the usual stopover in Bangkok.

“We had planned to spend a day or two in Bangkok but later decided to go to Koh Samui directly,” said Sircar, who was there with his family on a leisure trip.

He said Koh Samui was “normal” and shops and markets were open till late in the evening.

Hotel employees told the family that the political turmoil has not spread beyond Bangkok.

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Indians, logging around 10 lakh visitors from the country last year.

Travel industry sources said about 800 passengers take flights to Bangkok from the city every day for business and leisure.

Thai tourism officials said the two airports in Bangkok — Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang — were operational.