Well-known Social Activist and radio journalist Baltej Pannu, who was arrested in an alleged rape case, was on Sunday sent to judicial custody.
The police had moved an application to extend the police custody for recovering his Canadian passport, but the court declined the request. SSP Gurmeet Singh Chauhan said the victim had identified the places in Patiala where the accused committed the crime.
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 people filled the Canadian Convention Centre in Brampton, responding to a Facebook post and news articles in India’s papers that detailed Pannu’s arrest in Punjab on Thursday, on charges related to sexual exploitation and intimidation.
Supporters say the Punjab state government is trying to silence Pannu, a fierce critic, and want Ottawa and India’s federal government to intervene.
“He’s an outspoken journalist and he has taken on the Punjabi government,” said Ontario NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh, who attended. “We are questioning the legitimacy of these charges. It is a strategy that is often used to silence dissidents.“
Pannu, a Canadian citizen, lived in Brampton for 25 years, working as a social justice reporter and radio host before moving to Punjab with his wife about five years ago, friends said. He has a son who lives in Vancouver. A similar rally is scheduled for Sunday in Surrey, B.C.
Wife appeals to Canadian govt
Meanwhile, talking to media, Ranjita Kaur, wife of the accused, said she would appeal to the Canadian government to conduct an independent probe into the case. She claimed that her husband was falsely implicated in the case as he criticised the Punjab government on the social media as well as on the radio. Meanwhile, Pannu’s supporters staged a protest outside the local court. They raised slogans against the Punjab government and accused police of implicating Pannu in the case.