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Balesh Dhankhar on trial for rape charges

Prominent Indian personality in Sydney is pleading not guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault

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Former Hindu Council of Australia associate and prominent leader in Sydney’s Indian community, Balesh Dhankhar is currently on trial 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.

Dhankar has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Balesh Dhankar was prominent in organising the Sydney reception of Prime Minister 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. 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.

Balesh Dhankhar
(Source: Facebook)

Police have alleged that Dhankar filmed himself with a camera inside an alarm clock, raping five women who he had lured to fake job interviews to Hilton hotel.

Dr Yadu Singh, well-known community elder, said about the case, “Recognising that these are just allegations that have not been proven yet, and Balesh Dhankhar has a right to presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, the details of the allegations published in the media yesterday are horrific and horrendous. Balesh has held prominent positions in many community organisations in Australia including a Hindu organisation with links back to the Indian government and the ruling political party.  He was involved in organising the community rally for the Indian PM in Sydney in November 2014.”

“These allegations have been known to many including me for many years although the details have come out just now. 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. My sympathies are directed mainly at the alleged victims, who had to go through their alleged horrific treatment at the hands of the alleged perpetrator as described in the media. I am confident that justice will be done for all the parties involved in, and affected by, these alleged horrific crimes,” Singh added about the Balesh Dhankhar rape charge.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Crown 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 Hilton Hotel bar which was close to his Sydney apartment.

The Crown prosecutor told the judge that 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”.

When they raided his apartment, police allege two types of sedatives were detected in a wine and sports drink bottle in Dhankhar’s fridge.

In October 2018 a young Korean woman met Dhankhar at the Hilton for one of his fake interviews, when he invited her for dinner.

It is alleged that under the pretext of showing her the Opera House from a good viewpoint, he took her to his city apartment and gave her alcohol.

She told the police she felt dizzy, and from the bathroom texted her location to a friend.

“Sister, I feel very intoxicated however slightly different kind of intoxication,” her texts allegedly read.

“And I am worried myself. Keeps trying to kiss me… I am f—ed up.”

The woman recalled having double vision and losing control of her body as Dhankhar allegedly held her up in his apartment, trying to dance with her and kiss her, according to police reports.

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 women remembers being naked and feeling dirty and dizzy, and remembers bright lights, a condom wrapper and feeling pain. She didn’t think Dhankhar had sex with her, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege they would later find two videos on Dhankhar’s laptop of him having sex with her while she was unresponsive and making “distressed sounds”.

A third woman, according to prosecutors, met Balesh Dhankhar at the Hilton and went to the same Korean restaurant.

Police allege that when she went to the bathroom and came back and had a sip of wine, she felt dizzy. Her final memory was being held up by Dhankhar at the counter, prosecutors told the jury.

But she allegedly woke up in his bed and though her belt was missing, she was dressed. Due to being dressed, she did not think he had sexual intercourse with her.

But police would later allegedly find ten videos of Dhankhar having sex with the mostly unresponsive woman who, at times, tried to stop him.The jury was told Dhankhar had a “particular tendency” to record intimate images and videos of unconscious Asian and Korean women, and a particular sexual interest in them as well.

Balesh Dhankhar
Source: Matrix News for Daily Mail Australia

Dhankhar 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.

“Mr Dhankhar’s case is that each of the complainants consented to sexual acts they engaged in but the prosecution needed to prove Dhankhars guilt ,” Ms Mitchell told the jury.

Balesh Dhankhar also disputes the images were made without the women’s consent and denies drugging them, the barrister said.

Sergeant Katrina Gyde, the officer in charge of the case, told the court that a hard drive with 47 videos of him engaged in sexual intercourse was found in Dhankhar’s backpack.

The trial continues.

This article was written with inputs from The Sydney Morning Herald 

 

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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