THE family of a woman allegedly held as a slave in London have spoken of their heartache at her unexplained disappearance 30 years ago.
It emerged that the Malaysian woman was a high-flying student who won a scholarship to a London university but vanished virtually without trace after joining a Maoist sect.
Speaking from her home near Kuala Lumpur, retired teacher Kamar Mautum said her 69-year-old sister, Aishah, moved to Britain in 1968 with her fiance and dreamed of balancing an exciting career with a family. But she was soon lured into extremist politics.
Kamar said her late mother's dying wish had been to know what had happened to her daughter who travelled to London, but had never returned.
Kamar said: "I have felt so choked without her for years and years. She was so talented, she was the apple of my mother's eye. She asked for her on her death bed."
The London flat where the 57-year-old Irishwoman, a 30-year-old British national and a 69-year-old Malaysian lived was yesterday boarded up, shortly after the names of the husband and wife arrested in connection with the case emerged.
Aravindan Balakrishnan (73) and his wife Chanda (67) were arrested by police last week amid allegations that they held the women for three decades.
It also emerged the couple were leaders of an extremist communist sect which was based on the political teachings of the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
The case came to light after the Irishwoman rang the Freedom Charity last month to say she had been held against her will.
But the youngest of the three alleged victims is said to have previously written letters to neighbour Marius Feneck (26), describing her life as being "like a fly trapped in a spider's web".
The woman known as 'Rose' wrote more than 500 letters to him in seven years, according to reports. One letter told of the "unspeakable torment" she suffered behind locked doors and windows.
In one she wrote: "I daren't try anything because I know they'll do something evil to you if I do. I'm taking a great risk to give this to you, but I cannot bear to keep the truth from you any longer."
She went on: "I apologise to you from the bottom of my heart for the evil actions of these crooks who dare to call themselves my 'relatives'. I HATE them."
She claimed to have arrived in Britain as a baby and insisted that the people living in her flat were not her parents.
Commander Steve Rodhouse, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "The woman does have a birth certificate. However, that is all the official documentation we can find.
"We believe she has lived with the suspects and the other victims all her life."
The three alleged victims are believed to have suffered years of physical and mental abuse. Police at Scotland Yard said two of the alleged victims met the male suspect through a "shared political ideology", living with him at an address that was effectively called a "collective". Commander Steve Rodhouse said: "The people involved, the nature of that collective and how it operated is all subject to our investigation. Somehow that collective came to an end and the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects.
"How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what we are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."
There was a visible police presence in Brixton yesterday as uniformed officers made house-to-house enquiries around the flats in Peckford Place where the three women were found. There are also ongoing inquiries relating to a total of 13 addresses, all in London, linked to the couple.
They are believed to have been well-known to the police in the 1970s after setting up a communist squat, the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, in Acre Lane, Brixton, in 1976. The site now houses a restaurant.
Balakrishnan, who was known as Comrade Bala, was a former member of the national executive committee of the Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) but documents show he was suspended from the party in 1974 for pursuing "conspiratorial and splittist activities".
All three women are now receiving treatment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)