Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala was shot over 30 times on May 29 by unidentified attackers in the Jawaharke village of Mansa district, India. Fans around the world mourned the loss of an artist who quickly rose to the charts through his soothing voice and exceptional songwriting.
Canadian-Punjabi gangster Goldy Brar, an associate of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, claimed responsibility for Sidhu’s murder. Once Brar confessed to targetting Moosewala, the hoo-ha regarding the murder died down. While the news of his killing shook the fans and industry insiders alike, the recent changes in India’s political climate followed by questionable measures by the govt have made people speculate if his killing was politically motivated?
The singer, who had garnered fame with hits such as So High and 47, had a turbulent political career that ran parallel to his successful yet controversial music. Moosewala, who was hailed by The Guardian as one of the 50 selected new artists for 2020, joined Congress towards the end of 2021. Welcomed by Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as someone who understands the youth, Moosewala went on to contest the 2022 Punjab Legislative Assembly election.
The famous rapper lost the Mansa assembly seat to Vijay Singla of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by a margin of 63,323 votes. Subsequently, a case was filed under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code after Moosewala was found holding a door-to-door election campaign after the end of the campaigning period, breaching the election code of conduct.
The singer went on to release a song titled Scapegoat to protest his electoral defeat, drawing accusations of labelling the people of Punjab as “ghaddar” (traitors) by the now-ruling AAP. In a tweet, Punjab minister Harjot Singh Bains went as far as to call the lyrics of the song “shameful” and that “defeat should be taken as a lesson of introspection.”
Needless to say that all the statements and events that led up to his death made everyone wonder about the circumstances and motive behind the killing.
In a major happening, Punjab Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Jagjit Singh Milkha, filed a plea in Supreme Court to have the murder case transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Moreover, tensions in Punjab rose as it was discovered that Moosewala was amongst the 424 people whose security protection had been removed by the Punjab government a day prior to the singer politician’s murder. Described as a “state-sponsored murder”, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla held the AAP government responsible for the murder.
According to Poonawalla, the security cover was removed “without any logic or proper analysis. The murder of Moose Wala, within hours of his cover being withdrawn, shows that law and order has collapsed due to AAP’s ‘PAAP’ government.” A request by the Punjab government for further investigation into the murder case was reportedly not accepted.
As per Op India, Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema has demanded the resignation of the Punjab govt over the incident, saying that it should be termed as ‘state-sponsored’ murder. He slammed the AAP government for withdrawing the security of 424 individuals and then publishing the list, turning them into an easy target.
He said, “Murder of Sidhu Moosewala has shocked the country. This should be considered a state-sponsored murder. Firstly, the security of 400 people was withdrawn and then their names were published on social media. It’s criminal negligence.”
The former chief minister and Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal also hit out at CM Bhagwant Mann over his government’s decision to remove Moose Wala’s security. He said, “This is an extremely sombre and critical hour, requiring all of us to exercise restraint and statesmanship. On his part, CM must reflect deeply on why Punjab under him has drifted into anarchy with a total breakdown of law & order.”
The former CM further added in his comments posted on Twitter, “CM also must honestly think if the cheaply populist decision to withdraw Moosewala’s security is directly responsible for the tragedy. After all, he faced a tangible threat to life. This is no time for political point-scoring but someone must take responsibility for the situation.”
Just as his fans began to process the 28-year-old’s untimely death, the loss was renewed when YouTube removed Moose Wala’s song Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) in India, which spoke about the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal issue as well as the despair of Sikh political prisoners in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The song was removed following a complaint by the government of India.
The song SYL talks about the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal which has been at the centre of a long-running water dispute between the late Sikh rapper’s home state of Punjab and neighbouring Haryana. The track, released posthumously on Thursday, also touches on other sensitive topics such as deadly riots targeting the Sikh community that broke out in India in 1984 and the storming of an important Sikh temple in Amritsar by the army the same year.
It had garnered nearly 30 million views and 3.3 million likes on the singer’s YouTube channel before it was pulled down over the weekend. “This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government,” said a message posted on the song link. The song is still available in other countries.
In an email to AFP, a YouTube spokesperson said it had only removed the song in “keeping with local laws and our Terms of Service after a thorough review”. Moose Wala’s family termed the removal of the song “unjust” and appealed to the government to take back the complaint, Indian media reported.
“They can ban the song but they cannot take Sidhu out of the hearts of the people. We will discuss legal options with lawyers,” uncle Chamkaur Singh was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.