Cult Maoist leader Aravindan Balakrishnan jailed for 23 years in UK | world | Hindustan Times
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Cult Maoist leader Aravindan Balakrishnan jailed for 23 years in UK

Balakrishnan, 75, who was born in India and migrated to Britain from Singapore, called himself Comrade Bala. He established the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought in Brixton in 1975 and turned it into a secretive cult.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2016 22:51 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Aravindan Balakrishnan has also been accused of brainwashing his followers into thinking that he had God-like powers, besides raping two of his followers.
Aravindan Balakrishnan has also been accused of brainwashing his followers into thinking that he had God-like powers, besides raping two of his followers.(REUTERS File Photo)

Aravindan Balakrishnan, who once led a secretive Maoist commune in south London, was on Friday sentenced to 23 years in prison after being found guilty of rape, child cruelty and falsely imprisoning his daughter.

Balakrishnan, 75, who was born in India and migrated to Britain from Singapore, called himself Comrade Bala. He established the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought in Brixton in 1975 and turned it into a secretive cult.

The daughter escaped from the commune with two other women in October 2013 and told the police that she was regularly beaten by Balakrishnan. The escape sparked a major inquiry that was widely followed in Britain.

On Friday, the daughter waived her legal right to anonymity and publicly identified herself as Katy Morgan-Davies. The 33-year-old called her father “a narcissist and a psychopath” whose actions were “horrible, so dehumanising and degrading”.

Balakrishnan has also been accused of brainwashing his followers into thinking that he had God-like powers, besides raping two of his followers. His daughter, from a relationship with follower Sian Davies, spent her life until the age of 30 imprisoned in the commune.

He reportedly lied to his daughter, claiming her father was a dead freedom fighter and that her mother died in childbirth. Her mother, however, was inside the commune with her until she died in 1997 after falling from a window.

As the judge sentenced him in the Southwar Crown Court, a devoted cult member shouted from the public gallery: “This is political persecution. Balakrishnan’s wife, Chanda Pattni, defended her husband, claiming that he had been framed.

Judge Deborah Taylor told Balakrishnan that he was guilty of “grave and serious crimes committed over a long period and you have no remorse whatsoever”, as he sat impassive in the dock in a blue anorak and listening on a hearing loop.

The judge told him that he had evolved into “a largely housebound demagogue or dictator” who beat and humiliated his followers. “You were ruthless in your exploitation of them.”