I’m still deaf from beating by cult leader, says nurse ‘held captive for 30 years’

Eventing Standard, UK/November 18, 2015

By Paul Cheston

A nurse wept as she told a court how a beating by a Maoist cult leader in London had left her deaf in one ear.

The Malaysian woman said she had been drawn into the commune because she wanted to make friends after she arrived in the city.

But she felt she could not leave, as cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan’s wife Chandra would call her if she ever skipped a meeting, the court heard.

The nurse said she had no real interest in politics and no idea what the terms “bourgeoisie” or “proletariat” meant.

She remembered having looked after Balakrishnan’s daughter, who had been born into the cult, and said she had been kept prisoner there for years when he first attacked her.

“The first time I was beaten, the girl was just a few years old,” said the nurse. “We took turns looking after her.

“She wanted something and I had to say she couldn’t have it. I saw him rush out of the bedroom and the next thing I knew was an almighty whack on my face — then there was something warm trickling down my face and I realised it was blood.

“I was squatting down with my hand on my head. He could see the blood. I couldn’t remember the problem but he frightened the life out of me.”

“I lost my hearing then. I couldn’t hear anything that people said.”

The nurse said she had not been allowed to see a doctor and never asked any questions because she was too  terrified of Balakrishnan.

Her only solace was her tape recorder and her Phantom Of The Opera cassette which she had to keep hidden at all times, the jury was told. She wept as she recalled the night she slept at the collective’s base in Acre Lane, Brixton, rather than go back to her own lodgings, and was arrested in a police raid.

She was taken to court on a charge arising from that — and was ordered to shout “Death to the fascist state” during her appearance there.

The nurse told Southwark crown court: “They told me I had to do it, I thought I had to do it. I was too scared, I didn’t know what to think. You were told to do it and you just did. It never occurred to me to do anything else.”

She described political lectures by the defendant, known as Comrade Bala, when commune members would be forced to stand for hours on end.

“They say you have to stand up, you can’t sit — if he doesn’t tell you to sit you don’t sit,” said the nurse, who ended up living at the commune full-time.

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage, QC, asked: “If anyone showed any weakness and wanted to sit down what happened?” She replied: “I dread to think.”

The nurse entered the cult in 1977 and did not escape till 1992, the court heard.

Balakrishnan, of Edmonton, denies indecent assault, rape, assault, cruelty to a child and false imprisonment of his daughter. The trial continues

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