Call it an irony or an intuition of sorts, Sidhu Moosewala in one of his last songs ‘The Last Ride’ released around two weeks back, with a gun pointed towards his head, sang: ‘Ho bahuteyan di hate da oh hissa banneya, bohat ohnu aithe chaunde chaunde mar gaye…duniye ch charchey tey jhande jhoolde…par ohnu shehar ch haraunde mar gaye.. jitt naalo zyada jihdi haar boldi.. ho Moose Wala jeonde hi amar ho gaya… Chobbar de chehre utte noor dasda, ehda uthuga jawani vich janaza mithiye…’
(He was hated by many, but many also died loving him..he was famous worldwide but many in his own city failed to defeat him…More than his win, his defeat created noise. Moosewala has become immortal in his life, but the gleam on the face of this man tells that he will die young).
He often said in interviews that his inspiration was Tupac Amaru Shakur (also known as 2Pac), the American rapper who too was shot dead in his car in 1996. The song ‘The Last Ride’ was believed to be his tribute to Tupac.
Shot dead at Jawahar Ke village of Mansa Sunday, the Punjabi singer, rapper turned politician Shubhdeep Singh alias Sidhu Moosewala’s fascination for guns and weapons was evident in most of his tracks, and that also became the reason for the love and brickbats, the fame and the controversies-that he received in equal measures, making him immensely popular in a short time.
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Assi goliyaan de naal mukne nahi..medalan wangu parche ne, aidde-aidde kaand kare, Parliament tak charche ne…’ (We aren’t the ones who will be finished with bullets, FIRs on us are like medals, our deeds are a matter of discussion in Parliament),” were the lyrics of his song ‘Outlaw’, that had led to massive backlash in Punjab for ‘misleading’ the youths.
On one hand, the 27-year old was the heartthrob of the youths for his tracks, on the other hand he had frequent brush with the law. But irrespective of all controversies, his popularity only grew, especially among the youths in Punjab.
He was often accused of promoting and glorifying violence, gun culture and violence in his compositions. The lyrics of his songs by him casually boasted about murders, guns, weapons and violence– something that never went well with activists in Punjab who often accused him of misleading youths and being a bad influence on them by promoting gun culture and crime.
Several complaints were filed against him for his songs ‘glorifying gun culture and violence.’
From ‘302 da parcha’ (FIR for murder) to ‘banda maarke kasoor puchhde’ (first kill a person and then ask what his fault was), Moosewala’s songs though always on the lips of the youths, were also on radar of police and activists, who alleged that the singer was misguiding youths of Punjab and making them pick guns and weapons.
It was on February 1, 2020 that Moosewala along with another singer Mankirt Aulakh, was booked under the sections 294 (sings, recites or utters any obscene song), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 149 (unlawful assembly ) of the IPC in an FIR registered at Mansa Sadar police station, on the complaint of an advocate HC Arora.
Both the singers were booked for allegedly singing and promoting the song ‘Pakhiyan, pakhiyan.. gun vich panj goliyaan, ni tere panj veeran layi rakhiyan…Ni jidey uttey tu mardi, ohde uttey ikk 302 da parcha… (I have five bullets in my gun for your five brothers…The guy whom you love is already booked for murder)’.
Few days after the FIR, Moosewala had allegedly sang another song in a live show at Dirba in Sangrur: “…Hun dasso kihda kihda kanda kadna, jatt zamanat tey aaya hoya hai..’ (Now tell me who are the persons to be eliminated , Jatt has come out on bail).” A fresh complaint was filed with the DGP by Arora against him on February 26 for ‘criminal intimidation’.
Then amid the coronavirus outbreak in May 2020, Punjab Police officials also landed in controversy after a video showing Moose Wala firing shots with the AK-47 rifle of a policeman inside a shooting range in Barnala went viral. Along with Moosewala, police had also booked three professional shooters and five police officials under the sections 188 of IPC, section 51 of the Disaster Management Act and other sections of the Arms Act in an FIR registered at Dhanaula police station. Then DGP Dinkar Gupta had also placed under suspension Sangrur DSP (headquarters) Daljit Singh Virk for allegedly facilitating the ‘shooting outing’ for the singer and flouting the pandemic rules.
In another incident in May 2020, the Sangrur police had booked him and six cops at Sadar Dhuri police station under Section 188 of the IPC and Arms Act after a video of him firing from a private pistol at Ladda Kothi shooting range went viral.
Punjab Police always had a love and hate relationship with Moosewala and came under fire for choosing him as one of his face for Covid awareness even as he was accused of glorifying gun culture and violence in his songs.
In April 2020, when the coronavirus had just kicked in, a video featuring the singer as a part of Punjab Police’s Covid awareness drive, faced a lot of flak for allegedly defaming and mocking a Covid patient.
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A Mumbai-based private agency which created Covid awareness campaign for Punjab Police, roped in Moosewala seeing his massive popularity but the move backfired.
‘Main Gurbaksh gawachan, Italy ton aaya haan’ sung by Moosewala allegedly defamed and shamed 70-year Baldev Singh, Punjab’s first Covid patient who died. The five-minute song also had photos of the deceased and blamed him for passing the virus to his grandson de él and lyrics were, ‘Siggi jo mainu bimaari, oh ho gai mere pottey nu’. (I transferred the disease to my grandson too).
He had also run into another controversy for allegedly misusing the name of 18th century Sikh warrior Mai Bhago in his track ‘Jatti Jeonay Morh Di Bandook Wargi’ and SAD and other panthic bodies had demanded his arrest for hurting Sikh sentiments and disrespecting Mai Bhago. He had apologized later saying that he had ‘no intention to disrespect Mai Bhago’.
In one of his songs, Moosewala who belonged to Moosa village of Mansa, had also said that he belongs to a village where a person is murdered without giving a single thought. In his track ‘G Wagon’, the lyrics were: ‘Jatt uss pind nu belong karda jithe banda maarke kasoor puchde…’ (Jatt belongs to a village where we first kill a person and then ask later what his fault was)
But apart from the guns and violence, his songs touched chords and hearts of the people for portraying and saying what was not openly said otherwise.
For instance, in his song 295 which was a satire on corrupt politicians and politics in name of religion, he said: ‘Ikk gall puchh ehna thekedaran nu…Sadda vi ae panth kalla thoda taan nahi.. Nitt controversy create milugi… Dharman de naam te debate milugi… Sach bolega taan milu 295.. Je karega tarakki putt hate milugi… (Please ask these thekedaars of the religion, is it only your panth or ours too. Everyday there will be a new controversy, a debate in name of religions .. if you will say the truth you will get 295 (IPC section).. and if you will progress, you will get hate).
In December last year, he had announced his entry into politics and joined Congress ahead of Punjab polls, with the song ‘Mansa jiley de vich Moosa pind jatt da, ban gaya kalakaar oh vi superstar… thode time vich dunia ch chaa gaya… lokan di kehenda sewa karni, Moosewala siyasat ch aa gaya..’ (My village is Moosa in Mansa district, I became an artist and that too a superstar. To serve people, Moosewala has entered politics).
The massively popular singer, who has over 10 lakh followers on Facebook and 10.3 million subscribers on YouTube, however faced crushing defeat by more than 63,000 votes against his AAP opponent Dr Vijay Singla from Mansa in Punjab polls. Singla is now behind the bars in a corruption case.
Blaming voters of Punjab for his electoral loss, Moosewala in his song ‘Scapegoat’ released after Punjab polls result, had sung: ‘Kihne kihdi chooni sarkar dasso kaun, hun mainu lokon ae gaddar dasso kaun, jeet gaya kaun gaya haar dasso kaun, hunn mainu lokon ae gaddar dasso kaun (Who elected which government, now you people tell me who are the traitors. Tell me who lost and who won, people tell me who are the traitors).”
The lyrics had kicked up a political storm with AAP leaders demanding an apology from Moosewala and Congress for allegedly calling voters ‘gaddar’ (traitors).