Like most of his songs, this one too is going to strike a controversial note. Punjabi singer Shubdeep Singh Sidhu Moosewala’s latest track SYL — the first to be released after his death — is sure to touch a raw nerve with its talk of the water dispute, undivided Punjab, 1984 Sikh riots, Sikh prisoners militants, Sikh and Sikh flag hoisting at the Red Fort during the farmer agitation.
Moosewala was shot dead at Jawahar Ke village of Mansa district on May 29. He left behind a few recorded songs, including SYL which was set to be released before the Operation Blue Star anniversary. He was planning to shoot video for the song along with his friend and video producer Stalinveer.
“He wanted to release the song on the eve of June 6 (Operation Blue Star anniversary) as the song is related to the last 70-year history of Punjab and Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) channel. He was very excited about the song and was regularly discussing with me how to shoot video of the song. He shared pictures of Balwinder Jattana with me. But the Almighty had different plans for him,” Stalinveer told The Indian Express.
Moosewala’s college-time friend Randeep Singh had discussed the song with Moosewala. “I talked to him on the evening of May 28 for around one hour. He would often discuss politics of his songs with me. I had warned him that SYL song would disturb his own party and the ruling party in Punjab as well. I had warned him that the song may put him in trouble,” said Randeep.
“But Moosewala told me that he was like that only and it is not his habit to get pressured. He told me that what he has to say he would say, irrespective of the party he was in. He did n’t care about the fallout of his song from him on his life from him or politics from him. He was pained over the hypocrisy of political parties over the rights of Punjab.” The music video registered more than 10 lakh views within one hour of its release on YouTube on Thursday.
What is in the song?
The song starts with the recent statement of Aam Adami Party Rajya Sabha member Shushil Gupta. Soon after the AAP formed government in Punjab, Gupta had said, “Now we have a government in Punjab. In 2024, AAP will form government in Haryana too. In 2025, water will reach every farm in Haryana. This is not our promise but our guarantee.”
As Gupta’s statement ends, Moosewala’s lyrics begin: “Sanu Sada Pichokar the Lana de deo/
Chandigarh Himachal te Haryana De deo/ Jina Chir Sanu sovereignty da rah in dinde/
Una Chir Pani Chado, Tupka Nai dinde (Give us back our past and tribe. Give us Chandigarh, Haryana and Himachal. Forget about the water, we won’t even give a drop until you give us sovereignty).”
On water, it says: “Pani Da Ki e, Pani tan Pulan Thalon Vagna/Sanu Nal Rala Lao Lakh Bhave, Thale ni lagna/Dabke Nal Mangde O, Asi Tan Nai Dinde/Una Chir Pani Chaco, Tupka Nai dinde (Water will keep flowing under bridges. You can win us with love but we will not bow to you. We won’t give you water because you are offensive in asking).”
The song goes on to add: “Kalam Nai Rukkani hun nit nva Ek Ganj aau/Je na tale fer mur Balwinder Jattana Aau/Fer Put Begane Nehra Ch demand La hi dinde/Una Chir Pani Chaco, Tupka Nai dinde (My pen won’ t stop and a new song will be written every day. If you don’t step back then someone like Balwinder Jattana will return. The daring sons turn canals into vegetation).”
The song also demands the release of Sikh prisoners — the issue on which Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) have been contesting Sangrur by-election.
It refers to ‘topiwala’ as one with narrow thinking. The ‘topiwala’ is a term used by the SAD factions for the AAP.
There is a statement of Punjabi singer and actor Deep Sidhu, who had died in a car accident in February 2022, as well. The song ends with the controversial statement of Governor Satya Pal Malik. While hinting at the possibility of drastic consequences for not revoking farm laws, Malik had said, “Indira Gandhi knew that she would be killed and she was killed. They killed General AS Vaidya in Pune and General Dwyer in London. I have even said that don’t test the patience of the Sikh community.” This statement was made before the farm laws were taken back by the Union government.
There are visuals of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Balwant Singh Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara. Apart from Balwinder Singh Jattana, pictures of Sikh militants Davinder Pal Bhullar, Gurdeep Singh Khaira, Lakhwinder Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara and many other Sikh militants are used.
The video also mentions about NASA study about water crisis in north India that groundwater was depleting dangerously. It makes appeal to viewers, “Each one of you is the last hope for protecting the Punjab river water to prevent the desertification of Punjab.”
The video ends with hashtags #savepunjabwaters and #releasesikhprisoners.
The Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) channel has remained at the center of Punjab trouble in the last half century and the issue is still not resolved. On April 8, 1982, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi started the construction of the SYL canal with a groundbreaking ceremony at Kapoori village in Patiala district. A stretch of 214 km was to be constructed, out of which 122 km was in Punjab and 92 km was in Haryana. But the Shiromani Akali Dal launched an agitation in the form of Kapoori Morcha against the construction of the canal. These events led to the Operation Blue Star.
Then in July 1985, the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sant Harchand Singh Longowal signed an agreement for a new tribunal to summarize the construction of SYL.
On August 20, 1985, Longowal was killed by Sikh militants, less than a month after signing the accord. The Union government was in no mood to step back from construction of SYL. On July 23, 1990, chief engineer of SYL ML Sekhri and superintending engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh were killed by Sikh militants.
Here comes Balwinder Jattana in the picture. He was a Sikh militant who along with Jagtar Singh Panjola, Balbir Singh Fauji and Harmeet Singh Bhauwal killed the chief engineer. Their action halted the construction of SYL and it has still not resumed. Vegetation has come up at the site of the SYL channel over the last 32 years which is mentioned in the song.
Four family members of Jattana were allegedly killed by Punjab Police cat Ajit Singh Puhla on August 29, 1991. Jattan himself was killed in an encounter by the Punjab Police on September 7.