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Former OFBJP Australia chief found guilty of sexual offences

Melbourne, April 24 (IANS) Balesh Dhankhar, identified as one of the founders of the Australia division of the ‘Overseas Friends of BJP’, has been convicted of drugging and raping five women he met through false employment advertisements, a media report said.

Dhankhar “cried” as a District Court jury in Sydney’s Downing Centre on Monday found him guilty of each of the 39 charges against him, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

He 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, making him one of the worst rapists in Sydney’s recent history.

For these crimes committed between January and October 2018, Dhankhar had been attempting to “have his name suppressed” in the last four years.

When police raided Dhankhar’s CBD apartment in October 2018, they found dozens of videos of him having sex with women who would either be unconscious, or struggling.

The videos were sorted into folders, each labelled with a Korean woman’s name.

“Small drugged Korean f—ed webcam roleplay”, one video bookmarked on his computer was titled, the Herald reported.

When Crown prosecutor Kate Nightingale pointed out in a trial this month that “You (Dhankhar) thought it was fun a watching Korean women who were unconscious, impaired”, Dhankhar replied: “It is just a porn video, it has nothing to do with the unconscious, impaired.”

The court was told that he would put out ads seeking to hire Korean-English speakers and would often meet the women at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel bar, up the road from his apartment.

Dhankhar gave the women — who were alone, desperate for work and new in Sydney — wine or ice-cream laced with sedatives.

The sexual assaults were recorded using a camera hidden in his bedside alarm clock and on Dhankhar’s phone.

According to The Herald, the jury “writhed” as they watched the videos, and at one stage when it became unbearable, they asked Judge Michael King to send them home early.

The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), Australia had reportedly played a pivotal role in organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reception in Sydney in 2014.

As the trial was underway, the organisation said that Dhankhar had resigned from the organisation in 2018. “Balesh Dhankar has resigned from OFBJP Australia in July 2018. We strongly condemn his actions and he must face full force of law,” the organisation had tweeted.

Dhankhar, who was assigned a rising star barrister, sold his family’s assets and properties to fund his legal defence, the newspaper reported.

He will face court again in May and will be sentenced later in the year.

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