New Delhi: Balesh Dhankhar, identified as one of the founders of the Australia wing of the ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’ organisation is awaiting trial after having been charged with drugging and raping five women after first meeting them through false employment advertisements.
According to the British Daily Mail, Dhankhar faces 13 charges of rape, six of administering an intoxicating substance with intent to enable himself to rape, 17 of recording intimate videos without consent, and three of indecent assault.
In all, Dhankhar is charged with 39 offences allegedly committed between January and October 2018. He was employed by Sydney Trains during all of the alleged rapes.
The paper says that Dhankhar has been attempting to “have his name suppressed” in the last four years. Dhankhar was hired by Pfizer (the pharmacy company) and the news channel ABC for one-year contracts as data visualisation consultant from 2019 to 2021 while on bail in this case, the report says.
As per the Australian paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, Dhankhar reportedly posted a job ad for Korean-to-English translation work on the site Gumtree to get women respondents to Sydney’s Hilton Hotel bar, which is located near his apartment. Police have said that the translation ad was a “ruse.”
A jury heard that he used a “very specific modulus operandi” to trap the woman, committing almost all the rapes at the same hotel, café, and Korean restaurant.
Authorities claimed Dhankhar used a secret camera lodged in an alarm clock to record himself raping the women at the Hilton hotel. Prosecutors said that he also spiked glasses of wine and other drinks with tablets of the sleeping drug Stilnox or the infamous ‘date-rape’ drug Rohypnol.
Australian media reports have also carried prosecutors’ beliefs on Dhankhar’s alleged fetishisation of an ethnic group. Police also allegedly found detailed records that Dhankhar kept of the alleged assaults.
Dhankhar’s lawyer, Rebecca Mitchell, has acknowledged the accusations were upsetting and disturbing, that he was “deceptive,” and had a sexual interest in an ethnic group.
The Sydney Morning Herald noted in its report that the jury, earlier this week, “sent a note to Judge Michael King saying they wanted to go home early because of the nature of the videos” that Dhankhar shot.
The trial is underway.
The Overseas Friends of BJP is a global organisation professing support for BJP. In Australia, the wing that Dhankhar reportedly founded had reportedly played a key role in organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reception in Sydney in 2014.
A day ago, the organisation tweeted that Dhankhar had resigned from the organisation in 2018. He is mentioned as a founding member in their official website.
Balesh Dhankar has resigned from OFBJP Australia in July 2018.
We strongly condemn his actions and he must face full force of law.
— OFBJP Australia (@OFBJPAus) March 17, 2023
According to media reports, he has often bragged about having access to Modi and has shared pictures of himself with Modi on social media. He has spoken at numerous events on behalf of the Hindu Council of Australia – whose stated mission is to work for a strong, cohesive and active Hindu community in Australia – including lectures on interfaith exchanges at the University of Sydney.
Aam Aadmi Party has tweeted on Dhankhar’s alleged ties to Modi.
विदेश में भारत को शर्मसार करते मोदी जी का अनमोल रत्न!
BJP नेता #BaleshDhankar ने Australia में Job दिलाने के बहाने कई लड़कियों का किया बलात्कार!
अगर ऑस्ट्रेलिया Police इसे गिरफ़्तार ना करती तो PM Modi इसे भारत बुला कर अवश्य एक बड़े पद से सम्मानित करते। pic.twitter.com/PtaV4k1OVu
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) March 17, 2023