How dear singer Sidhu Moosewala was to the people of Punjab, especially the younger generation, was apparent from the large turnout at his ‘Bhog’ ceremony at Mansa on Wednesday. They came from all over the state and beyond on their own to pay homage to the singer who, in a short period captured the imagination of the Punjabi music lovers the world over. As a mark of respect for him, people voluntarily organised the distribution of sweetened drinks at all the roadsides that led to the venue. It was difficult to believe that it was the same Moosewala who was rejected by the same people when he contested on the Congress ticket in the recent Assembly election from Mansa. If those who congregated for the Bhog ceremony demanded punishment of those who were responsible for extinguishing the young life, they could not be blamed. The state government should introspect whether it should also apportion the blame for his murder because of the sudden withdrawal of security to him. His views, whether on the Operation Bluestar or Sant Bhindranwale’s role in the events that led to the military action against the Akal Takht, might not have been palatable to some but that did not justify the snuffing out of his life. He was an unconventional singer in the sense that he did not feel shy about holding a gun in the music videos he produced or in conveying a political message through the lyrics he used. However, Moosewala did not find anything incongruous about lamenting Operation Blue Star, keeping a picture of Bhindranwale on his vehicle, and yet contesting on the Congress ticket. The voters of Mansa saw his persona as a politician and a singer differently. They were not swayed enough to vote for him when they were in a mood to give the Aam Aadmi Party a chance to rule the state and prove its capability. However, they were not prepared for what eventually happened to him because they loved his music, his earthiness, and his honesty of purpose. His songs were creating new records on such platforms as YouTube, which would be the envy of any singer anywhere. He was set to be declared as the heartthrob of the Punjabis when dark elements conspired among themselves to nip his music in the bud. It was the shock and sorrow over his death that found a reflection in the Bhog ceremony.
Moosewala’s murder represents a new challenge for the law and order authorities. The Delhi Police have arrested gangster Lawrence Bishnoi as they believe that the killing was “masterminded” by him. He was already in jail for his involvement in another case. As are two of his “accomplices”. The Punjab Police have also arrested one of the sharp-shooters who was allegedly involved in the shooting. The Maharashtra Police have arrested a gangster from Pune, who is believed to have been involved in the assassination. The police also claim that a criminal based in Canada played a major role in the killing. The Punjab Police believe that Moose Wala was killed in retaliation for the killing of Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middhukhera. Technology has made it possible for criminals in various places to coordinate, plan, and execute murder-making investigations doubly difficult. In the instant case, only a coordinated effort by the police of Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, and, if necessary, Canada can unravel the jigsaw puzzle and arrive at the truth. This is easier said than done as too many cooks tend to spoil the broth. An alternative is to entrust the job to an agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has the resources and expertise to handle such a case.
In no case, should the killers of Moosewala escape punishment. Time is of the essence in such an investigation. It is a moot point how the police were convinced that Bishnoi was the “mastermind” immediately after he was shot multiple times at a point-blank range. The investigation, trial of the accused, and punishment are all time-consuming processes. Alas, there is no substitute for good policing. In 2019, when a veterinary doctor was gang-raped, killed and her body thrown on the roadside in Hyderabad, the police claimed credit for arresting four persons, allegedly involved in the heinous crime. And a few days later, when the four were killed in an alleged “encounter”, there was widespread “celebration” over the police action. If anything, it was a reflection of the exasperation the people have over the delay in the police investigation. Recently, the commission which inquired into the encounter killing reported that there was no encounter. Instead, they were shot after they were asked to “flee for safety”. Moosewala’s killers and conspirators, however powerful and wherever they are located, should be brought to justice.