Sidhu Moose Wala: Murder of popular Indian singer sparks anger
The murder of a singer in the northern Indian state of Punjab, a day after his security cover was trimmed, has sparked outrage.
Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, popularly known as Sidhu Moose Wala, was shot by unidentified people while he was travelling in the state’s Mansa district on Sunday evening. He was 28.
Two others were injured in the attack.
The murder led to a political storm in the state, with opposition leaders criticising the government and police.
State police chief VK Bhawra had said on Sunday that a Canada-based gangster had claimed responsibility for the attack.
But Moose Wala’s family demanded an apology from Mr Bhawra for linking the death to gang rivalry without a proper investigation.
On Monday, Mr Bhawra clarified in a statement that he hadn’t said that Moose Wala was a “gangster or affiliated with gangsters”.
“One Goldy Brar has claimed the responsibility on behalf of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang. The investigation would look into all aspects regarding the murder,” he said, adding that he had been “misquoted” by some media outlets.
Punjab’s chief minister Bhagwant Mann has ordered an inquiry – led by a high court judge – into the incident.
Opposition leaders have questioned why the singer’s security cover was scaled back.
Police said that Moose Wala’s security detail had been reduced to two commandos from four, and that these officers weren’t travelling with the singer when he was attacked.
He was among over 400 people in Punjab whose security detail was withdrawn or scaled back recently by the government.
Mr Mann had said the step was partly taken because of a government exercise to crack down on so-called “VIP culture” which privileges politicians above ordinary citizens.
Police officials said it was also done to deploy more personnel for security ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the controversial Operation Blue Star – when the Indian army stormed the Sikhs’ most sacred shrine in 1984.
But the government’s move sparked controversy after the names of people on the list were leaked on social media, with some pointing out that it increased the threat to their lives.
Mr Mann has expressed shock at Moose Wala’s murder and promised that the culprits would be punished. He also urged people to maintain peace after protests erupted in some parts of the state.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by Moose Wala’s murder – the singer had joined the party last year.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa also urged federal home minister Amit Shah to initiate an inquiry into how the list of persons whose security was withdrawn got leaked.
Moose Wala, known for his temperamental and edgy lyrics, was one of Punjab’s biggest pop stars. He was also a controversial figure who had several brushes with the law.
Critics often called him out for promoting gun culture – a major concern in Punjab – through his songs and social media activity.
In May 2020, the singer was booked for firing an AK-47 rifle at a shooting range during the Covid lockdown. He also had a police case against him for allegedly promoting violence and gun culture through his song Sanju.
He contested the state assembly election earlier this year as a Congress candidate but lost.
His death shocked fans across the country and abroad, especially Canada, which has a sizeable Punjabi diaspora population. Social media was flooded with tributes, with many demanding justice for Moose Wala.
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