In a dramatic turn of events, minutes after Sangrur AAP MP Bhagwant Mann began addressing mediapersons at the Chandigarh Press Club on Thursday, a woman, with her face covered, stepped onto the dais and introduced herself as the complainant in the rape case against Patiala journalist Baltej Pannu.
The woman stood near the dais for sometime as Mann announced his support for Pannu and termed his arrest as a case of repression of the media. She interrupted Mann and the two other leaders seated with him, asking them for time to tell her side of story.
Fearing trouble, an embarrassed Mann, Himmat Singh Shergill and Harjot Bains left the dais and the woman introduced herself to the media before sharing that she had been repeatedly raped by Pannu at his Patiala house and at a friend’s flat in Chandigarh. Pannu, she said, had promised to marry her after they met at a gymnasium in Patiala. “When I insisted he marry me, he started threatening me by saying that he would upload footage to defame me. It was then that I decided to get him booked in a rape case,” the woman said.
She said Pannu had yet to divorce his wife, who had been living in a gurdwara at Bulandpur near Nanaksar. She claimed Pannu had forced his wife to leave their home when she objected to his harassing women sexually.
Pannu is in judicial remand and lodged in the Patiala jail.