Singaporean cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan, who was known for having raped two of his followers and kept his daughter a “slave” for 30 years, has died in prison on Friday, 8 April.
He was 81.
Balakrishnan, known as Comrade Bala, brainwashed his cult into believing he had God-like powers and could read their minds, and subjected them to decades of abuse.
He also raped two of his followers and kept his daughter a “slave” for 30 years. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2016.
Who is Aravindan Balakrishnan?
Balakrishnan migrated to Singapore from India when he was 10. He was a student at Raffles Institution and later the University of Singapore. He became politically active and believed that he would have been imprisoned in Singapore had he openly admitted he was a communist.
Due to his leadership in the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, Balakrishnan was considered to be engaging in activities which are prejudicial to the security of Singapore.
The Singapore authorities found that Aravindan and others, many of whom were former Singaporean students he had associated with in London, were plotting to overthrow founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and in 1977, while living in London, his Singaporean citizenship was revoked.
Between 1974 and 1976, his followers attempted to build revolutionary stable base areas in working-class communities, primarily from South London and worked in ordinary jobs. Balakrishnan discouraged his followers from joining trade unions, calling them the agents of the “imperialist fascist bourgeoisie”, resulting in the more liberal members exiting, leaving behind a group of around 10 women members who were “brainwashed” by him.
The collective moved to Brixton in 1976, under the title Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Family members were later branded fascist agents and ostracised and Balakrishnan and his captives moved to a number of properties to escape detection from the authorities. In 1979, he began sexually abusing two of the women.
Balakrishnan used fear, sexual degradation and physical and mental violence to keep the women under his control, turning his commune based on Communist teachings into his own personal cult, London’s Southwark Crown Court was told in 2015.
Even his own daughter, who was born to one of the women in the collective, was bullied and beaten, barely allowed to leave the house, never permitted to go to school, play with friends or see a doctor, said prosecutor Rosina Cottage, adding that she was kept as a slave for 30 years.
Waiving her right to anonymity, Katy Morgan-Davies told the court she “felt like a caged bird with clipped wings”. As a child, she was told her parents were dead, and only learned that her mother was Sian Davies after her death some 14 years later. Davies died eight months after she fell out of a top floor bathroom window.
A DNA test after she left the group proved Balakrishnan was her father. The last report was in 2016 and that Ms Morgan-Davies had moved to Leeds.