Punjabi rapper and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala shot dead

Punjabi singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead on Sunday, May 29 in Jawaharke village in the Mansa district in Punjab. He was 28 years old.

The tragedy occurred a day 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. Two others accompanying Moose Wala were injured after the attackers opened fire at the vehicle, they were travelling in. The assailants have yet to be identified.

Punjab police has claimed the attack seemed to be a result of inter-gang rivalry. They are investigating the role of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi’s gang in the killing. Bishnoi’s associate, Goldy Brar aka Satinder Singh has claimed responsibility for the attack. A special investigative team (SIT) has been organised.

In a Facebook post that is reportedly making the rounds, Brar writes in Punjabi, “I, along with Sachin Bishnoi Dhattaranwali, Lawrence Bishnoi group, take responsibility for the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala. His name came up in connection with the murder of Vicky Middukhera and Gurlal Brar and despite this, the police did nothing.”

Love of hip-hop

Born in 1993, Moose Wala joined the Congress party in December last year before Punjab’s state elections. In the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections, he contested from Mansa on a Congress ticket but was defeated by Aam Aadmi Party’s Dr Vijay Singla.

Moose Wala, whose real name is Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, had a degree in electrical engineering but moved to Canada and began his career as a lyricist on ‘License’ and then as a singer with ‘G Wagon’ in 2017. Since then, he released several hits such as ‘Jatt da Muqabala’, ‘Devil’, ‘Legend’, ‘Brown Boys’, ‘It’s All About You’.

His 2018 debut album, ‘PBX1’ featured on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart while The Guardian ranked him among the top 50 up and coming artists watch out for in 2020. His song with Amrit Maan, ‘Bambiha Bole’ had 10 million views in a single day of release and featured on the Apple Music Charts in Canada and New Zealand.

Last year, he was the first Indian artiste to perform at the Wireless Festival in London sharing the stage with English rapper Mist. In 2021, he made his movie debut with the film ‘Moosa Jatt’. Following which in April, 2022, Moose Wala released ‘No Name’, an EP featuring AR Paisley, Mr. Capone-E and Sunny Malton. His last recorded track, perhaps fittingly titled ‘The Last Ride’ dropped a couple of weeks ago which eerily foreshadows his going too soon.

In spite of skirting controversy with his gangster rap music, political views and provocative statements with several ongoing court cases, Moose Wala is credited with making significant contributions to not just Punjabi but Indian hip hop and the country’s music at large.

Personal politics

Moose Wala’s passing has sparked a social media frenzy that is already escalating into political polarisation, with some blaming the Punjab government for its withdrawal of Moose Wala’s security. Others are are alluding to the singer’s personal politics that was a catalyst for the attack. However, tributes keep pouring in.

The Indian National Congress tweeted, “The murder of Shri Sidhu Moose Wala, Congress candidate from Punjab & a talented musician, has come as a terrible shock to the Congress party & the entire nation. Our deepest condolences to his family, fans & friends. We stand united & undeterred, at this time of extreme grief”

Canadian comedian Lilly Singh wrote on Instagram, “Absolutely devastating and upsetting news. To my global audience that may not be familiar, today a young legend in the Punjabi music industry was killed. If you see tribute images of him today, please don’t keep scrolling, but rather take a moment to stream the music of Sidhu Moosewala. It has often been featured in my content and has always resulted in people asking me, “what song is that?!” Through his revolutionary music, he will live on. Beyond the care he had for his community, he created the soundtrack that made many of us feel seen, a perfect blend of hip hop, rap and folk music. Rest in power. Gone way, way too soon. Thank you for changing the game”

Musician Vishal Dadlani wrote, “I only knew #SidhuMoosewala through his music, yet the news of his demise has cut deep. India has very few authentic modern artists. He was right on top of that list. I’m without words. He’s a legend, his voice, his courage & his words will never be forgotten. What a sad day!”

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav wrote, “Shocked to hear about Sidhu Moose wala! Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. #SidhuMooseWala”

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