Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Jawaharke village of Mansa district on Sunday, NDTV reported.

The 28-year-old singer, who was popular in the rural belts of the state, was among the 424 VIPs whose security cover was scaled down yesterday as part of the Bhagwant Mann government’s exercise to crack down on VIP culture. 

Moose Wala was earlier protected by four armed personnel; the cover was scaled down to two armed guards.

The VIPs whose security cover was downsized in the latest round included retired police officers and religious and political leaders. Earlier, the state government had withdrawn the security of 184 former ministers, MLAs and private protectees. A month earlier, the security of 122 former ministers and MLAs had been withdrawn.

Former ministers Manpreet Singh Badal, Raj Kumar Verka, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and the family of former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi were among those who lost their security cover.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab government has come under fire for publicising its decision to withdraw the security cover of VIPs.

BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said Moosewala’s death is the result of the “nasty” politics of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann. Speaking to NDTV, he said that he had pointed out yesterday that the leaking of the names of VIPs who lost their security cover would make them vulnerable. “@ArvindKejriwal & @BhagwantMann are responsible for the brutal killing of #SidhuMoosewala whose security was withdrawn yesterday,” he tweeted.

After the state government’s decision was reported yesterday, Mr Sirsa had demanded action against those who leaked the names. “First, you withdrew security & then you make them vulnerable by leaking their names!,” he had tweeted.

Akali Dal leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal also targeted the AAP government for its move to scale down security of VIPs and then to make this information public.

Congress leader Charan Singh Sapra said the state government and Chief Minister must come clean on what basis Moose Wala’s security cover was removed. “The government has to answer,” he told NDTV. 

Moose Wala had joined the Congress in December, months ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls. He contested the polls from Mansa but lost to AAP’s Vijay Singla, who was recently removed as minister following bribery allegations. 

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