A popular rapper, lyricist and actor with legions of fams, Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead on sunday evening near Jawaharke village of Mansa district. A look at his background, career and the controversies that surrounded him.
Early years, family background
Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, popular as Sidhu Moosewala, hailed from a farmer’s family from Mansa’s Moosa village. The 28-year-old was an electrical engineer who graduated in 2016 from Ludhiana’s Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, but went to Canada where his first song was released in early 2017.
Moosewala’s father, Balkaur Singh, is a retired government employee and a farmer, while mother Charan Kaur is sarpanch of the Moosa village. She won the polls in December 2018 by a margin of 600 votes.
Popular songs & movies
Moosewala moved to Canada after his graduation and released his first song ‘G Wagon’. However, he gained popularity with his track ‘So High’ in 2018. His debut album PBX1 was at 66th on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. His single ’47’ was ranked on the UK singles chart. His Bambiha Bole song entered the top 5 on the global YouTube music chart. In 2021, he released Moosetape tracks which too gained global popularity. I have performed live in India and many countries abroad. Later, Moosewala officially launched his record label, 5911 records. Most of his songs by him highlighted the Jat Sikh community.
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Moosewala also appeared in a few Punjabi movies including ‘Yes, I am Student’, ‘Teri Meri Jodi’, ‘Gunah’. He played the lead role in the movie ‘Moosa Jatt’, which was released in October 2021, but did not do great commercially. His movie ‘Jattan da Mundan Gaun Lagya’ was released in March 2022.
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Moosewala often courted controversy for promoting gun culture through his songs. In May 2020, two videos went viral featuring Moosewala. While one featured five cops and showed Moosewala training with an AK-47, in another he was seen flaunting a personal pistol. Six cops were suspended on May 19 after this. The singer was also booked under Arms Act by the Barnala police as the incident had happened in Barnala.
In July 2020, he got regular bail and later joined investigations. He was even fined for using black tinted glasses in Nabha in June that year.
Moosewala later released a song ‘Sanju’ in July 2020 in which he stated that FIRs lodged against him were the badges of honour.
In December 2020, he was once again in controversy over his song ‘Panjab’ in which he glorified Khalistan separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale.
During the first Covid wave March 2020, Moosewala had released a song ‘Gwacheya Gurbaksh’ where he mocked Gurbaksh Singh, who came from Italy to Punjab, and became Punjab’s first Covid death and also a ‘super spreader’. He was criticized for taunting a Covid victim.
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After losing the recent Assembly polls from Mansa, he released a song ‘Scapegoat’, where he derided voters as traitors. AAP then hit back accusing him of insulting the voters.
In September, 2019 he landed in trouble for inappropriately referring to ‘Mai Bhago’ (legendary Sikh woman who led 40 Sikh soldiers in fight against Mughals) in his song. Later, I have apologized on social media for the mistake and even appeared before Akal Takht over the matter in March 2020.
Role during farmers’ stir, Covid
Sidhu Moosewala was the first Punjabi singer to come in support of farmers during their agitation against three farm laws on September 25, 2020 when Bharat Bandh call was given by farmers. At that time, the major impact of the stir was only visible in Punjab. He had even participated in the bandh in Mansa. He was unwavering in his support for the protest that was later backed by several Punjabi singers.
During the first wave lockdown, he had appealed to people to stay indoors.
Banners carrying his picture and an appeal to people to observe ‘self-lockdown’ were seen across Punjab. He then started ‘thikri pehras (night watch by community)’ in own village Moosa to enforce the lockdown. This was done in association with the then SSP Dr Narendra Bhargav and later these nakas could be seen in the entire state. Moosewala was also among those leading from the front in distributing ration and other items of daily needs to people during the lockdown.
Moosewala in politics
Moosewala joined the Congress in the run up to the Punjab Assembly polls and unsuccessfully fought from Mansa. He lost by 63,323 votes to AAP’s Vijay Singla. His close aides him say that his family had been a Congress supporter in the past as well. His mother won election as a Congress sarpanch and paved the way for her son to join the same party. Lately, he was critical of the AAP government, and also of Vijay Singla who was sacked as minister over corruption charges.