Cult leader ‘allowed daughter to read Harry Potter books he identified with’

Published: Thursday 19th November 2015 by The News Editor

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A woman allegedly held prisoner by her communist cult leader father for 30 years was allowed to read the Harry Potter books because he thought he was like the boy wizard hero, a court has heard.

Maoist Aravindan Balakrishnan, 75, allowed his daughter to read JK Rowling’s novels and JRR Tolkein’s epic Lord Of The Rings books because he identified with Potter and Middle Earth hero Aragorn, she told his trial.

But as she read the books as a teenager, she came to realise that he and his followers were like Voldemort and the Death Eaters from the Harry Potter stories, or Sauron and his Black Riders from Tolkein’s epic fantasy trilogy, the jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

This, she said, inspired her to fight back against his control.

Giving evidence via video-link, she said: “He thought Harry Potter is like him, Harry is like Ara. It’s magic and things. Harry Potter was a way to introduce his ideas to the children.”

Talking about the Lord Of The Rings she added: “He said it was like himself. He said (third book) Return Of The King, that when he takes over the world it will be like Aragorn in Lord Of The Rings coming to Middle Earth, destroying Sauron.

“I suppose in his mind Sauron was like America and the West. He would get rid of them, there would be a war and he would destroy them.

“I actually began to see he is like Voldemort and Sauron. He wanted us to be like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Black Riders in Lord Of The Rings.

“In the books I found I was like Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins – a little person without any power, fighting against this Dark Lord, this invincible Dark Lord who has over-reaching powers and you can in no way fight against him.

“Yet these tiny little people with their strength get to challenge that and destroy that. I felt so inspired by these books.”

Balakrishnan, who was known as Comrade Bala to his followers, watched the screen impassively as his daughter gave her evidence, saying that she came to hate the woman she later found out was her birth mother.

She was born to Balakrishnan’s follower Sian Davies, who “threw herself out of a window” on Christmas Eve 1996, the court heard.

But she knew her only as Comrade Sian and was raised collectively.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said she was told she was a “waif” adopted by the group with Miss Davies’s name on her birth certificate as a paper convenience.

She told the jury that Miss Davies had been a “spy for Bala” who “had to prove she was closer to him than to her daughter”.

She said Miss Davies was “extra unkind” to her in the commune during the 1980s and often found fault with her behaviour.

She wrote in her diary that she “hated her” after she died, the court heard.

The woman said: “She (Sian) would be extra unkind and report me, getting me into more trouble. There was no affection between us. I really didn’t like her. She scared me like hell.”

Southwark Crown Court in London has already heard claims that members of the commune were encouraged to spy and inform on each other in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.

Balakrishnan’s daughter said she had called Miss Davies “Mum”, because her name was on her birth certificate, several times before the older woman was taken to hospital in 1996.

Describing a visit to see her in the hospital, her daughter said: “I said ‘Bye bye, Mum’ to her. She said ‘Bye bye, baby’ to me. That was the last time I ever saw her.”

She added that she once saw Miss Davies cry when she was writing a fake backstory of her parents that she was told by Balakrishnan to create – that her father “died in a people’s war” in Peru and her mother in childbirth.

The woman added that “at the time I didn’t realise why she was crying”, saying she believed she was moved by the story of her “parents'” sacrifice.

She went on to say that Balakrishnan was treated “like a god” in the south London commune.

She said: “The idea was that one day Bala was going to rule the world and the whole world was going to become like this (a commune).

“This was like a test to see if this way of living and working is how to do it.”

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC asked if she could remember when Balakrishnan had first spoken of ruling the world.

The woman said: “Ever since I was a child that was what Bala said and everyone around me said that. He is God, he knows everything – that is one of my earliest memories.

“Bala knows everything, he will be immortal and if you follow him properly you can gain immortality – long life or eternal life if you are really good.

“If anyone goes against him harm will come to us. If we thought a bad thought we would be scared anything could happen to you.”

She added that he would beat her if she displeased him, slapping her in the face and whipping her legs with a plastic stick.

She was also subjected to “withering criticism” and denouncing, she said, along with other members of the community.

She added: “There was always violence in the house, I saw that.”

She also said she had come to associate her birth name – which she no longer uses – with violence.

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s.

He also denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment.

None of his alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

Published: Thursday 19th November 2015 by The News Editor

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