A few hours after Congress leader and popular Punjabi singer Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead near Mansa, Punjab in India, Goldy Brar, known to be a member of the Canada-based Lawrence Bishnoi gang, allegedly claimed responsibility for the killing.
Moosewala, 29, was killed days after the Punjab government reduced his security cover, along with that of many others.
Brar, in a Facebook post, claimed that the motive for the shooting was in retaliation for Moosewala's involvement in the murder investigation of an Akali Dal leader where the police took no action against the singer.
"I, along with Sachin Bishnoi Dhattaranwali, Lawrence Bishnoi group, take responsibility for the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala. His name came up in connection with the murder of Vicky Middukhera and Gurlal Brar and despite this, the police did nothing," a Facebook post written in Punjabi and attributed to Brar, said. Brar, whose real name is Satinder Singh, is known to be a close aide of Lawrence Bishnoi.
There has been no independent confirmation that the post was actually written by Brar. The singer had faced criticism from several quarters for promoting gun culture in his songs. He had also been booked for allegedly promoting violence through his song 'Sanju'.
Police said Moosewala, whose real name was Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, was shot while he was driving his SUV in village Jhawahar Ke in Mansa district with two others, and was declared brought dead at the Mansa Civil Hospital.
Punjab Director General of Police Viresh Kumar Bhawra said, “Moosewala left his house in Moosa village at 4.30 pm. Around 5.30 pm, he was driving his jeep, accompanied by two persons, when two vehicles that had been following him intercepted his vehicle and fired at him.”
On May 26, as part of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s security pruning exercise, Moosewala’s security cover had been halved from four to two, ostensibly to augment police force for ghallughara diwas (marked to protest Operation Bluestar).
The Punjab Police had ordered the withdrawal or pruning of security for 424 persons, including MLAs, religious leaders, dera heads and retired police officers. Among the religious leaders whose security cover was reduced or withdrawn include officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, the Radha Soami Satsang Beas chief, Takht Kesgarh Sahib Jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh, and Dera Sachkhand Ballan chief Sant Niranjan Dass among others.
Mansa Senior Superintendent of Police Gaurav Toora said that on the day of the incident, Moosewala did not take “the two commandos who were part of his security detail nor his private guards, telling them that he was going for a round”.
DGP Bhawra said the killing “appears to be the result of inter-gang rivalry as Moosewala’s manager Shagunpreet Singh's name had surfaced in the Vicky Middukhera murder case.”
In August last year, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera was shot dead in a market in Mohali’s Sector 71. Police arrested three shooters, one of whom named Moosewala’s manager Shaganpreet. Shaganpreet has since been absconding.
DGP Bhawra said police are investigating the alleged role of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang in the killing.
The DGP said that on the directions of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Inspector General (Bathinda Range) has been asked to constitute a special investigation team to probe the incident.