Indian police are investigating the murder of a popular Punjabi rapper who blended hip-hop, rap and folk music, a day after he was fatally shot, officials said Monday.
Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, also known around the world by his stage name Sidhu Moose Wala, was killed Sunday evening while driving his car in Mansa, a district in northern India’s Punjab state. Moose Wala, 28, was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.
Punjab state’s top police official VK Bhawra said the initial investigation has revealed the killing to be an inter-gang rivalry.
A day before the attack, the Punjab government had pulled security cover for over 400 individuals, including Moose Wala, in a bid to clamp down on VIP culture, local media reports said.
Moose Wala started off as a songwriter before a hit song in 2017 catapulted his singing career, making him well known among the Indian and Punjabi diaspora in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada.
Most of his singles have an English title even though the songs were mainly sung in Punjabi. His glossy music videos were most famous for his rap lyrics and often focused on macho culture. His debut album in 2018 made it to Canada’s Billboard Albums chart.
Moose Wala was a controversial figure, in part due to his lyrical style. In 2020, police charged him under India’s Arms Act for allegedly promoting gun culture in one of his songs.
His latest track, “The Last Ride,” was released earlier this month.
The rapper joined India’s Congress Party last year and unsuccessfully ran in the state’s assembly elections.
Punjab’s chief minister Bhagwant Mann said, “no culprit will be spared” and that he was deeply shocked and saddened by the murder.
Rahul Gandhi, a senior Congress leader, took to Twitter to express his condolences over the killing.
“Deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of promising Congress leader and talented artist,” he said.