New Delhi: Punjabi singer-rapper and Congress leader Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu aka Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Mansa Sunday evening.
Sources in Punjab Police said the killing appears to be “a suspected case of gang rivalry”.
“Members of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang are being probed for their involvement in the incident,” a source told ThePrint.
The incident took place a day after Moosewala’s security cover, along with that of over 424 other VIPs in the state, was reportedly partially withdrawn by the Bhagwant Mann led-Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
Speaking to ThePrint, Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) V.K. Bhawra confirmed that Moosewala was shot dead.
Sources said that the singer was driving his cousins from his house to Jawahar Ke village at around 6 pm when his jeep was stopped by unidentified individuals, who opened fire.
“The assailants came in a couple of cars and started firing at their (Moosewala’s) car. The exact number of shooters and cars is not yet known,” a senior Punjab police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
Moosewala suffered three bullet wounds, one in his stomach and two near his chest, while his cousins also sustained gunshot injuries, sources said.
“Two of his cousins have been injured. He (Moosewala) was brought dead to Civil Hospital, Mansa,” said the police officer quoted earlier.
“We received a call 4-5 minutes after the incident took place. We were informed that a shooting incident had happened and the assailants had fled. A team was immediately rushed to the location. While Moosewala died on the spot, his cousins were rushed to the hospital,” another source told ThePrint, adding that so far, no CCTV footage of the incident or witness has been identified, though police are trying to ascertain the assailants’ identities.
“From contract killing to rivalry, all angles are being probed,” the source added.
The 28-year-old singer had contested the Punjab assembly elections held earlier this year on a Congress ticket, but lost to AAP’s Vijay Singla. Singla, who was made a minister in Punjab’s new AAP government, was arrested last week after being removed from the post by his government on charges of corruption.
News of Moosewala’s death sparked furious reactions from the Congress. The party’s state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring demanded that the AAP government be dismissed, while Partap Singh Bajwa, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, said that CM Bhagwant Mann should resign.
Also Read: Lawyers, engineer, doctors, members of Anna Hazare’s crusade — meet ministers in Mann’s cabinet
Congress demands CM Mann’s resignation
“Murder of a promising youngster Sidhu Moosewala exposes law & order situation of Punjab. CM @BhagwantMann should immediately resign as he holds charge of home department and a explanation is needed on what basis his security was withdrawn yesterday just one day before attack,” Bajwa posted on Twitter.
He also tweeted that the “AAP govt should stop tinkering with the security of individuals to gain cheap publicity on social media”.
AAP Govt should stop tinkering with security of individuals to gain cheap publicity on social media. What was the point of putting the list on social media after withdrawal of their security. If anything happens to any individual whose security has been withdrawn…
— Partap Singh Bajwa (@Partap_Sbajwa) May 29, 2022
“Deeply shocked at the broad daylight murder of Sidhu Moosewala,” tweeted Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, adding: “Punjab and Punjabis across the world have lost a talented artist with mass connect who could feel the people’s pulse.”
Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring tweeted: “I’m shocked beyond belief and expression. We lost a promising star in @INCIndia, Sidhu Moosewala. He was showered with bullets in Mansa just 2 days after @BhagwantMann govt withdrew his security. @AAPPunjab government has lost moral authority. It must be dismissed.”
VIP security reviewed each year ahead of Op BlueStar anniversary
A police officer who did not wish to be named told ThePrint that security of VIPs is reviewed and pruned every year ahead of the anniversary of Operation Bluestar.
“Personal security was thinned down to augment forces in view of Ghallughara Diwas, organised to protest Operation Bluestar,” he added.
Asked who decides the list of the people whose security cover will be toned down, the officer said that the directive comes from government officials.
“Moosewala had four personal security guards, of which two were removed. On Sunday he stepped out without his bodyguards when he was attacked,” he further said.
Social media following, controversies
Moosewala, was extremely popular among the youth of Punjab for his songs, and had a massive social media presence.
He shot to fame because of his controversial and aggressive lyrics which sometimes got him into trouble with religious and political groups.
Last month, the singer had sparked controversy with his song ‘Scapegoat’, with the AAP government in the state alleging that his latest song referred to Punjabi voters as “traitors”.
In 2019, he courted controversy with a song that allegedly had a reference to 18th century Sikh warrior Mai Bhago. Moosewala later tendered an apology.
The singer had a degree in electrical engineering and had also lived in Canada for a while.
Inputs from Ananya Bhardwaj
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
Also Read: Sidhu Moose Wala releases song on Punjab ‘super-spreader’, gives call for social distancing