Hyderabad: A prominent BJP activist and founding president of the Overseas Friends of BJP in Australia, Balesh Dhankar, who is also a former associate of the Hindu Council of Australia, is now facing trial after being charged with 13 counts of sexual assaults, 17 counts of intimate recordings without consent, six counts of using intoxicating substances to commit indictable offence, and assault with an act of indecency.
Balesh Dhankar was prominent in organising the Sydney reception of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the PM visited Australia in 2014. He boasted of his access to the PM and posted photos with PM Modi on his social media accounts, according to reports in Australian media.
On behalf of Hindu Council of Australia, he spoke at many functions including interfaith seminars at the University of Sydney and at the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb organised by HCA in 2015. He was also in the leadership group at the Overseas Friends of BJP in Australia.
Police said Dhankar filmed himself with a camera inside an alarm clock, raping five women who he had lured to fake job interviews to Hilton hotel.
One newspaper report quoted Dr Yadu Singh, a well-known community elder, saying Dhankar was involved in organising the community rally for the Indian PM in Sydney in November 2014.
“A community newspaper in Sydney published many reports about him and his activities a few years ago, but the relevant people conducted themselves very poorly and did not take any note of those reports. These allegations are obviously serious and the Australian judicial process will surely take them to the rightful conclusion in due course,” Singh added about the Balesh Dhankhar rape charge.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the prosecutor told the jury at the opening of the trial on Tuesday that Dhankhar had a “particular interest” in young Korean women. He allegedly posted ads on Gumtree offering translation work to Korean-English speakers. He would then meet with them at the Hilton Hotel bar which was close to his Sydney apartment.
Dhankhar had a “state of mind to satisfy his particular sexual interest” by posing as an interviewer and lying to them “so he could commit sexual acts on them and make intimate recordings of them – and do so whilst they were under the influence of a substance”, the report said.
In a report from the court room, published by Sydney Morning Herald, another young woman recalled eating ice cream and having one glass of wine in his house and then nothing until a late-night call to her boyfriend. The woman remembers being naked and feeling dirty and dizzy, and remembers bright lights, a condom wrapper and feeling pain.
The jury was told Dhankhar had a “particular tendency” to record intimate images and videos of unconscious Asian and Korean women.
Interestingly, Dhankhar’s barrister, Rebecca Mitchell, admitted the allegations were unpleasant and confronting, that Dhankhar had a sexual interest in women and used the ad to meet them, his business was false, and he was “deceptive”. She said that he also did not dispute having a sexual relationship with the women…