New Delhi: The jury of a district court at Sydney in Australia on April 24, found Balesh Dhankhar, one of the founders of the Australia wing of the ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’ organisation, guilty of drugging, raping and recording five Korean women in the city, with Australian press reporting that the jury was left shaken by the brutality of his crimes.
“Balesh Dhankhar is one of the worst rapists in Sydney’s recent history,” the Sydney Morning Herald noted in its detailed report.
As The Wire had reported before, quoting the British Daily Mail, Dhankhar faced 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 had been charged with 39 offences allegedly committed between January and October 2018.
The jury found him “guilty” of all of the 39 charges.
Dhankhar has been photographed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, according to Sydney news reports, was a prominent figure in diaspora events.
The organisation he founded, ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’, had reportedly played a key role in organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reception in Sydney in 2014. In March, when reports of Dhankhar’s crimes first came to light, the organisation tweeted that Dhankhar had resigned in 2018.
Dhankhar reportedly met women who had responded to his job ad for non-existent Korean-to-English translation work at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel bar, which is located near his apartment. He would drug the women and rape them at the same hotel, filming the crime. Investigators found overwhelming evidence of filmed recordings at his apartment.
The Sydney Morning Herald report notes that the videos were disturbing.
“The contents of the videos are too confronting to describe in detail. The jury writhed as they watched the videos. At one stage it became too much and they asked to be sent home early. Judge Michael King appeared sympathetic.”
This report also notes that while Dhankhar could have pleaded guilty in the past five years – thus saving his victims the trauma of giving evidence – his decision to contest the charges means “he now faces many years in prison for his crimes.”
He will be sentenced later in the year.