The gunning down of popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala is pointer to the fact that the state remains pretty volatile and the challenges for the new government led by Bhagwant Mann continue to be widespread. It is also a sign that bringing about any kind of change won’t be an easy task in a border state that has been through a disturbed recent history and continues to battle on several fronts.

Moosewala’s murder comes just a day after his security cover was pruned along with several others. This pruning of security has been undertaken by the Aam Aadmi Party as part of its poll promise of doing away with the VIP culture, and to put the manpower available in the police force to optimum use where required. But by doing so in a “much publicized” way it has come under criticism. Besides, it has to be kept in mind that there are forces that would not want things to change from the status quo over all these years.

Coming to Moosewala, life for this 28-year-old had been a rollercoaster. He went hand in hand with controversies, whether it was his choice of songs that glorified gun culture and violence, the political overtone of lyrics, or his name getting mentioned amidst the gangster scenario of Punjab.

Just sample the lyrics to ‘302 da parcha’ (FIR for murder) or ‘Banda marke kasoor puchde’ (They kill him then ask why he did it) or ‘Hun dasso kida kida kanda kadna, Jat zamanat te aaya hoya hai’ (Now tell me who is to be eliminated as the Jat has come out on bail).

In 2020 the Punjab Police had booked him after a video of him firing from a private pistol went viral. At the same time he had been the face of Covid awareness in the state.

His real name was Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, but he preferred getting identified with the name of his village Moosa in the Sardulgarh constituency of Mansa district of Malwa region in Punjab. This is a Jat Sikh dominated village. Coming from the family of an ex-serviceman, he tasted success very early in life emerging as a youth icon.

Reports say that he was able to build on the land resources of his family many times after he became successful. His renovated house known as ‘Haveli’ has remained an attraction for the people of the entire surroundings.

Moosewala was a student of electrical engineering in Ludhiana and had moved to Canada after his graduation. But his calling was singing, hip-hop and also acting in Punjabi films.

He was also into philanthrophy and used to organize free cancer detection camps in his village. It needs to be said that cancer has been widespread in the Malwa belt of Punjab and the poor have been shelling out their life’s earnings on treatment.

He joined the Congress just ahead of the 2022 assembly polls and contested unsuccessfully from the Mansa assembly constituency. Though he did make the news for his campaign promoting the cause of environment calling for clean air and water.

Reports say that a Canadian gangster has claimed responsibility for killing Moosewala near the house of his relatives in Jawaharke village in Mansa. The Police have also reportedly linked his killing with the same gang, saying that it was a fallout of the murder of Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera last year, in which Moosewala’s secretary Shaganpreet Singh was among the suspects.

The state government has constituted a three-member Special Investigation Team to probe the murder. Director General of Police V.K Bhawra said that when Moosewala reached Jawaharke along with his companions in his vehicle, they were intercepted by two cars.

“There was heavy firing from the front on Moosewala and his friends, where all sustained bullet injuries,” he said. The three were taken to Civil Hospital Mansa where Moosewala was declared brought dead while the survivors were shifted to Patiala.

On the withdrawal of Sidhu's security, the DGP said that in view of ‘Ghallughara week’ the police had temporarily withdrawn only two security personnel and he still had two commandos deployed with him. “While leaving home today, Sidhu didn’t take along his two police personnel and also left his private bulletproof car at home,” the DGP said, adding that prima facie it seems to be a case of gang rivalry.

While Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has expressed shock at the brutal killing, and has come out saying that “nobody involved will be spared”, the opposition parties have launched a frontal attack on his government on the law and order situation prevailing in the state.

Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has blamed the continuously deteriorating situation in Punjab for the brutal murder of the young singer. “This government has been a complete failure on the law and order front and I have been saying it right since the beginning,” he said in a statement.

“Moosewala’s murder was not the first during last two months and I am afraid this might not be the last one,” he said, adding that criminals no longer fear the law as the government has ceased to exist.

The Congress party too attacked the government for its failure to contain violence in the state. Party leader Priyanka Gandhi tweeted saying, “The AAP government in Punjab has turned law and order into a jungleraj and security has been handed over to political liking and disliking.”

In his attack on the government, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal had this to say: “On his part CM must reflect deeply why Punjab under him has drifted into anarchy and total breakdown of law and order, 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.”

Many feel that the shooting coming just a few days ahead of the anniversary of Operation Blue Star gives yet another dimension to the narratives in circulation in Punjab. It is being felt that Moosewala’s death may have a bearing on the Sangrur parliamentary bypoll in June, in the wake of Bhagwant Mann vacating the seat after being anointed chief minister in March.

Who is Sidhu Moose Wala, singer and Congress leader who was shot at Mansa  in Punjab?FGN News | FGN News