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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Indian-origin slave owners accused of targeting kids

AFP  London, December 01, 2013
First Published: 20:29 IST(1/12/2013) | Last Updated: 21:51 IST(1/12/2013)

A far-Left Maoist group run by an Indian-origin man and his Tanzanian-Indian wife in the UK, who allegedly held three women captive here for 30 years, has been accused of attempting to indoctrinate children as young as 10.

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Aravindan Balakrishnan, 73, referred to as Comrade Bala, and his 67-year-old wife Chanda were arrested last week over allegations of keeping three women in slave-like conditions in their south London flat for three decades.

A local shopkeeper recalls the couple trying to influence his 10-year-old son in the 1970s when Comrade Bala led the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought from a bookshop in Brixton area of south London.

"They had sweets laid out and my first thought was they were trying to attract kids so they could preach to them. I pretended to read the books but would really be listening to the conversations of those who worked there," Cliff McKinson, who lived on the same street as the bookshop, told The Sunday Times.

"I knew they were trying to recruit people...They said they had seen what Mao had done for China and wanted to do the same here. It (bookshop) was open in the evenings. I would see lots of men and women and children too in there when I was on my way home from work. They would also go door-to-door trying to recruit," he added.

The underground so-called slave operation came to light when three women ? Rosie Davies, 30, Aishah Wahab, 69, and Josephine Herivel, 57 ? fled from their house in October with the help of the Freedom Charity, which received a call from one of the women complaining they had been held against their will for about 30 years.

Wahab's sister flew down to the UK this week from Malaysia for an emotional reunion with her long lost sister.

Scotland Yard have been interviewing the three alleged captives to start building a case around the allegations against Bala and Chanda.


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