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“Enmity with me is like enmity with God
I’ll pull the trigger and game over!”
Guess where these lyrics are from.
I will give you a hint- They were sung by the same singer who was recently shot dead with the pull of a trigger.
It is heart wrenchingly tragic that Punjabi Singer Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead on 29th May 2022.
A rising star, who left us too soon.
But more than that- he was a son. To now shattered parents.
He was a would-be husband. To a now walking-dead fiance.
My condolences to his loved ones. OM SHANTI.
But there is an ugly truth hidden in his death. A truth which all of us, especially Punjab, must dare to confront.
That Sidhu Moosewala’s death was an inevitable, obvious outcome of the violent; hyper-aggressive; irresponsible gun-ownership culture- now so ubiquitously promoted in the Punjabi Entertainment Industry.
Siddhu Moosewala — the wannabe gangster
Punjabi Singer Siddhu Moosewala came out with the song ‘Sanju’ from which the opening lines of this piece had been lifted.
In the song, the singer could be heard bragging how he had joined the elite club of people who had been booked under The Arms Act of 1959.
The same act under which Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt had been sentenced to a 5 year jail term.
The singer had released this track after being booked by the Punjab Police for illegal possession of arms.
And yes, he was bragging about this ‘achievement’ of his. Not repenting, not regretting- but BRAGGING!
If you hear this song further, you will realise that Moosewala wore his chargesheet for ‘illegal possesions of Arms’ like a badge of honour.
The Udta-Punjab rockstars
‘Sanju’, was not a one off song by Moosewala where he glamourised or even romanticised gun violence and run-ins with the law.
Barring a few exceptions, pick any of his top hits-
So High/ Same Beef/ Just Listen/ Famous/ Badfella
All of these songs have some references to gang violence; murder; irresponsible gun ownership etc.
Moosewala’s logo is also a simple yet elegant insight into what a crime shrouded mind he had.
He proudly presented himself as this 20th century-styled Indian bandit who concealed identity while looting travellers and trains.
But the sadder part is that Moosewala was not the odd one out.
So many big names in Punjabi Entertainment – like
Badshah/ Honey Singh/ Mankirat Aulakh/ Babbu Maan
all promote a hyper aggressive; toxically masculine behaviour in their music videos/ social-media posts.
Most of them revolve around taking up arms and settling disputes not by the established Indian Law, but by Jungle Law.
While legal possession of arms is not something to be frowned upon. But the callousness and irresponsible liberty with which display and firing of weapons is promoted in these music videos/ movies is something to be taken note of.
Also, to single out Punjab or even Sidhu Moosewala in a country, where celebratory firing is common in weddings, would be unfair.
But to ignore that Punjab and Punjabis have paid the most (in whole of India) for this self-destructive culture, would also be a bliss in ignorance.
Much needed change: Punjabi cultural appropriation
If there is a lesson in this tragic but seemingly inevitable death of a gangster-styled singer, it is this- BE CAREFUL WITH WHAT YOU POPULARIZE IN MASSES.
Several studies conducted have shown that –
Culinary choices/ Fashion Trends/ Baby names/ Philosophical Ideas/ Lifestyle Choices
Have a trickle-down effect in society.
Societies, consciously or subconsciously, imitate what they see their ‘heroes’ doing on and off screen.
So now we know this and what is mostly promoted by the Punjabi Stars, it is easier to understand Punjab’s fall from grace.
1. Punjab SGDP Per Capita
a. 1981- ranked #1
b. 2020- ranked #16
2. Punjab SGDP Per Capita Growth rate
a. 1970-1980- Highest
b. 2000-2010- Lowest, barring Manipur
And on the other hand
- Number of Licensed Guns per Capita in India are now highest in Punjab
- Actively addicted, dependent users of drugs in Punjab are now 1.2% of its adult population.
All of this in a state which has one of the most fertile lands in the country; receives the third highest remittances and is the crown jewel when it comes to a hardworking population.
The remorseful death of Sidhu Moosewala is very similar to the mysterious death of late American Rapper Tupac Shakur in 1996.
Both self-styled gangster rappers; mixed up with the wrong people and gunned down in cars. At tragically young ages.
What promotion of gun violence has done to American streets and schools is a sad truth we get to hear of every now and then. And tearfully so.
The question is- are we headed for the same path?
These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.