Almost a month after he was killed, Punjabi singer and politician Sidhu Moosewala’s first posthumously released track ‘SYL’ has been removed from YouTube India after a complaint submitted by the government.
Released on June 23 by Moosewala’s team, the video went viral within half an hour of uploading, garnering close to 22 million views in three days before it was removed. ‘SYL’ with a title that references the contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link project, focuses on several issues plaguing Punjab – from water scarcity to Sikhs pride, wrongful imprisonment and the sampling of politicians’ public statements. The link project an under-construction canal in India that will connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. This bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana has been ongoing for several decades and is currently an ongoing matter in the Supreme Court of India.
‘SYL’, for instance, begins with Aam Adami Party Rajya Sabha member Shushil Gupta’s words promising Pubjab and Haryana water. It also includes Governor Satya Pal Malik’s comments about the recently repealed farm laws, that alluded to the murder of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The video ends with hashtags #savepunjabwaters and #releasesikhprisoners.
Moosewala was shot dead last month after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Punjab government withdrew security of over 424 individuals in the state including MLAs, religious leaders, and retired police officers. So far, a dozen arrests have been made in relation to the murder. All the allegedly accused have been acting on the instructions of co-conspirators Lawrence Bishnoi and Canada-based Goldy Brar, according to the Punjab police.
In an interview with Indian Express, the slain rapper’s friend and video producer Stalinveer said, “He wanted to release the song on the eve of June 6 (Operation Blue Star anniversary) as the song is related to the last 70-year history of Punjab and Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.”
On Twitter, dissent over the government’s complaint is evidently visible as the track is available to stream out of India.
Professor of Peace and Conflict Research, Ashok Swain said, “Sidhu Moosewala’s SYL song on YouTube has been blocked in India due to complaints from the Indian regime. Song of the dead singer on the water dispute has already been watched more than 28 million times. Silencing the music can’t solve the river conflict or growing Sikh anger.”
Political journalist, Aditya Menon tweeted, “Sidhu Moose Wala’s SYL removed from YouTube on govt orders. It got 2.7 crore views in 3 days. The song raised issue of Punjab’s river waters, release of Sikh political prisoners, justice for 1984 victims. Don’t know what govt is afraid of”
Author Rupi Kaur wrote, “Even in death—Sidhu Moosewala continues to change our consciousness. In his brilliant song SYL he talks of our heroes & the movements they led. He writes and speaks with such power. He takes stands for his people. It makes me so emotional to see that millions are watching today.”