Baltej Pannu is an Indian journalist, social activist, and political satirist who made headlines after supporting the farm protest in India against the three farmers bills passed in the Indian Parliament in September 2020.
Baltej Pannu was born on Friday, 5 April 1968 (age 53 years; as of 2021) in Sultanpur Lodhi, Punjab. He did his schooling from a Govt. High School in Sultanpur Lodhi, and at the age of 18, he shifted to Canada along with his father. He returned from Canada in 2011 after working there for 25 years.
Hair Colour: Bald
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Baltej’s mother died of cancer when he was very young.
Relationships, Wife & Children
His wife’s name is Ranjita Kaur, and he has one son, Jasdeep Pannu.
Mr. Pannu is a resident of Green Field Enclave, Officers Colony in Patiala, Punjab.
Baltej Pannu started working as a radio journalist in 1990 in Brampton, Canada. He gained popularity after working for many world-famous radio news stations, like Punjabi Radio USA, Connect Radio B.C. Canada, and South Asian Radio Edmonton. Mr. Pannu returned to India in 2011, and he started working as an editor for a website www.aajnama.com in 2013. Due to his social and political activism, Baltej started appearing six days a week on many radio and television programs on 5AAB TV, a Mississauga-based Punjabi-language channel; Mississauga is a city in Canada. He has appeared in many news shows on the YouTube channel Punjabi Radio USA including “Khabar Te Nazar.”
Social & Political Activism
Baltej Pannu openly criticised the Punjab government for failing to control the corruption and increasing illegal drug trade during the tenure of Parkash Singh Badal as its Chief Minister, and Baltej, on his shows on Punjabi Radio USA and Connect Radio B.C. Canada, claimed that since Parkash Singh Badal, his son, and two brothers-in-law held key political positions in Punjab Government, they must have had close links with drug traffickers and organized crime. Mr. Pannu is also very vocal of his views against the CAA and NRC introduced by the BJP government in December 2019. He has also protested against the Indian agriculture acts of 2020.
- On 28 November 2015, Baltej was arrested for allegedly raping Nancy Ghuman, an activist who runs an NGO for differently-abled children. Nancy filed a complaint against Mr. Pannu stating that he repeatedly raped her on the pretext of marrying her and taking her to Canada. She even disrupted a press conference conducted by the AAP MP Bhagwant Mann in the favour of Baltej. Bhagwant absconded from the press conference, and Nancy told the reporters,
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.”
Following her complaint, Baltej was kept in judicial custody for 72 days on account of his Canadian citizenship. Later, the journalist was exonerated of all the charges by the court. In the interviews, following his release, Baltej conceded that he was a victim of political vendetta for being vocal against the Akali-BJP government. Reportedly, he even received death threats by an Akali minister’s gunman for his anti-government comments. Hindustan Times
- During the farmers’ protests of 2021, Baltej, along with eleven other protestors, received a notice from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) pertaining to a case registered against Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is identified as a terrorist by the Indian Government, and a member of Sikhs for Justice, a US-based pro-Khalistan organisation. It was seen by some media houses and intellectuals as the government’s attempt to hinder the protest. While talking about this in an interview, Mr. Pannu said,
I am actively supporting farmers agitation on social media but I have been speaking against Khalistan and Pannu [Gurpatwant Singh Pannu] openly in my radio talks and TV shows. There is no question of collecting any funds for them. Maybe I have been served notice because my surname is also Pannu.” The Tribune
Baltej owns a Mahindra Scorpio.
- Tracing his roots from Punjab, Mr. Pannu became a Canadian citizen after moving to Canada in 1986. Toronto Star
- He has won the award for Best Ethnic Editor in 2001.
- According to the Canadian newspapers, more than 3000 people, including Ontario NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh, rallied for Baltej’s release on 27 November 2020 (one day after his arrest). More than 11,000 people signed a petition requesting the Canadian government to pressurize the Indian government for his release and return to Canada.
References [ + ]