Indian police are investigating the murder of a popular Punjabi rapper, who mixed hip-hop, rap and folk music, a day after he was fatally shot, officials said Monday.
Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, also known worldwide by his stage name Sidhu Moose Wala, was killed Sunday evening while driving in his car in Mansa, a district of northern India’s Punjab state. Moose Wala, 28, was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
VK Bhawra, the highest-ranking police officer in the state of Punjab, said the initial investigation has found the killing to be a rivalry between gangs.
A day before the attack, the Punjab government had lifted security on more than 400 people, including Moose Wala, in an attempt to curtail VIP culture, local media reported.
Moose Wala started out as a songwriter before a hit in 2017 catapulted his singing career, making him known among the Indian and Punjabi diaspora in countries like the UK and Canada.
Most of his singles have an English title, although the songs were mainly sung in Punjabi. His glossy music videos were best known for his rap lyrics and often focused on macho culture. His debut album in 2018 reached the Canadian Billboard Albums chart.
Moose Wala was a controversial figure, in part because of his lyrical style. In 2020, he was charged by the police under India’s gun law for promoting gun culture in one of his songs.
His latest song, “The Last Ride”, was released earlier this month.
The rapper joined the Indian Congress Party last year and unsuccessfully ran in the state elections.
The Prime Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, said that “no culprit will be spared” and that he was deeply shocked and saddened by the killing.
Rahul Gandhi, a senior congressional leader, took to Twitter to express his condolences for the murder.
“Deeply shocked and saddened by the assassination of the promising congressional leader and talented performer,” he said.