Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala shot dead in India, police probing Canadian gang link

Police in India say they are investigating a potential Canadian gang link to the murder of a Punjabi-language singer with roots in Brampton, Ont.

Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, widely known by his stage name Sidhu Moose Wala, rose to international stardom on a string of hits recorded after moving to Canada as an international student. In recent years he returned to India, where he mounted an unsuccessful political campaign for the Indian National Congress Party in the 2022 Punjab state elections.

Moose Wala and two others were shot in their vehicle on Sunday in the village of Jawaharke in the Mansa district of Punjab. They were shot by a group of assailants one day after police reduced security teams assigned to him and more than 400 other people, according to the Hindustan Times. He was transported to hospital where he died.

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In a Punjabi-language press conference Sunday, Sh. Viresh Kumar Bhawra, director general of Punjab Police, said police suspected “inter-gang rivalry,” involving India’s Lawrence Bishnoi gang, adding “his gang in Canada has taken responsibility for it.”

Sidhu had been scheduled to perform at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver in July as a part of his Back 2 Business Tour, one of four Canadian dates.

However ticket sales for the Vancouver date were paused last week amid security concerns.

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“We had not received any information of a specific risk outside of doing our own due diligence on this,” Pacific National Exhibition spokesperson Laura Balance said.

“So, yes, when we started looking into this particular artist, we saw the situation in other Canadian cities and abroad, and that triggered that higher level of conversation that needed to be had.”

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Violence had previously broken out at some of his Canadian performances, including a stabbing at a Surrey event and gunfire at a Calgary concert, both in 2019.

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That same year, Sidhu Moose Wala was cut from the lineup of the 5X Festival in Surrey after the RCMP cited security concerns.

Punjabi-language NBA commentator and community advocate Parminder Singh knew Moosewala from his time in Brampton, and described him as a “soft spoken” and “down to earth” person driven to succeed at school, music and political change.

While in Canada he studied at Sheridan College and Humber College.

Singh said Sidhu Moose Wala’s unique blending of North American and Punjabi elements set him apart in the music world and helped make him an international sensation.

At the time of his death, the rapper had amassed more than 10.8 million YouTube subscribers, won several Brit Asia TV Music Awards, produced hits that charted in Canada, the UK and New Zealand and launched his own music label.

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“It was his iconic video with the CN tower in the background and his raptors jersey that really shot him into success musically,” he said.

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“I remember one of our earliest conversations when he said Tupac was his inspiration,” rather than traditional Punjabi artists, he added.

“It’s so tragic, with his recent album, on the cover of the album he actually had a picture of Tupac’s shot-up vehicle. It’s crazy now you think back and look at all these things that took place and how his life ended.”

Singh said Sidhu Moose Wala strongly believed in the possibility of change through politics and had even encouraged his mother to run for mayor of her town.

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He had moved back to India to try and be more involved, he said. Sidhu Moose Wala had also used his platform to support the recent farmers’ protests in the country, he added.

“He was very headstrong about fighting this corrupt political system that he felt was very corrupt in India, and wanted to change that,” Singh said.

Vancouver police said Sunday they had not had any contact with authorities in India over the killing.

Global News has requested comment from multiple other police agencies about a possible Canadian connection to Moosewala’s death.

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