Balesh Dhankhar, a well-known member of the overseas Indian community in Sydney, Australia, has been found guilty of drugging and raping five Korean women. Dhankhar also filmed the rapes, adding yet another dimension to his crimes. The guilty verdict in the trial by jury came yesterday, as per reports from Australian media.
South Asia Times has reported that the charges against Dhankhar, confirmed by the media section of the Crown Prosecution in March 2023, included: administering intoxicating substance with intent to commit an indictable offence, namely sexual intercourse without consent; sexual intercourse without consent; indecent assault; and recording intimate images without consent.
Dhankhar found his targeted victims by posting fake job ads; asked the applicant women to meet him in a bar near his flat; spiked their drinks with various pills, including the notorious “date rape drug” Rohypnol; and then, when they became drowsy and unresisting, he brought them over to his apartment and raped them.
As per reports, Dhankhar stored the rape videos quite meticulously, creating digital folders under each victim’s name. These videos were found in 2018 by the police, after investigations began following a rape complaint.
Reporting on the case, The Sydney Morning Herald described Dhankhar as a “politically connected predator”. The newspaper said that Dhankhar recorded the rapes using a camera hidden in a bedside alarm clock and also with his phone. The recordings were shown as part of the trial, and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “the jury writhed as they watched the videos”.
The convict was well-networked in the Indian community because he is a former national president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), Australia. In March this year, the organisation clarified in a tweet: “Balesh Dhankar (sic) has resigned from OFBJP Australia in July 2018. We strongly condemn his actions and he must face full force of law.”
Australian media reports on the trial proceedings, held at the District Court in Sydney’s Downing Centre, said that Dhankhar cried in the courtroom yesterday as the jury foreman announced the “guilty” verdict on each of the charges.
Dhankhar, 43, is married. He has attributed his actions to an unfulfilled married life and the end of an extra-marital affair. He was, however, supported in the courtroom by his wife. He has to appear in court again in May, when he will be sentenced.