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Brampton-based singer Sidhu Moose Wala shot dead in India: reports


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Brampton-based singer Sidhu Moose Wala shot dead in India: reports

Sidhu Moose Wala, the singer/rapper who rocketed to fame in Brampton after moving from India as an international student, was shot dead on Sunday in the Mansa district of Punjab, according to reports.

According to the Hindustan Times and other Indian media sources, Moose Wala was killed by “unidentified assailants” in Jawaharke village, just one day after the Punjab government withdrew his personal security detail. Two other people were reportedly injured after 30 rounds were fired, the Times wrote.

In a Twitter post amplified by the official Government of Punjab account on Sunday, chief minister Bhagwant Mann stated he was “Shocked and Deeply saddened by the gruesome murder … Nobody involved will be spared. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his fans across the world. I appeal everyone to stay calm.”

Known offstage as Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, the musician had recently dipped his toe into Indian politics, unsuccessfully campaigning for office in Mansa as a member of the Indian National Congress party, the Times wrote. Despite his fledgling political career, it was his rap skill that earned him fame in Canada.

His music had gotten onto the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charts and was about to propel an international tour including a stop in a 5,000-seat arena in Mississauga, right next door to his home-base in Brampton, to which he paid homage in 2019 with his song “B Town.”

A review in Complex Canada last year said it was the 2017 breakthrough hit “So High” with Toronto producer Byg Byrd that really earned the musician local acclaim and attention.

While Sidhu Moose Wala has sometimes faced criticism for references to gun violence in his tracks, his music has also transcended borders; in 2019, the Guardian listed him among 50 new artists to watch for 2020, noting that a track with British rappers Mist and Stefflon Don — titled “47” — achieved a rare feat of getting South Asian music onto the U.K. charts.

Planned performances in Canada, over the last few years, have been plagued by security concerns. In 2019, the CBC reported that Surrey RCMP did a public safety assessment before the popular rapper was set to take the stage for the local 5X Fest Block Party, which resulted in the performance being yanked from the lineup. The city, in a statement provided to the CBC, cited “public safety issues” at past performances: a stabbing at another Surrey concert, plus shots being fired at a Calgary event.

Just this week, ticket sales for a Sidhu Moose Wala performance at Pacific Coliseum — scheduled for July 23, as part of the performer’s “Back 2 Business” tour across Canada and the U.S. — were put on hold, as the venue sought the advice of the Vancouver police department. Laura Ballance, a spokesperson with the Pacific National Exhibition, told the Star their team wasn’t aware of any specific threat with the show.

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But while doing their regular security assessment, their team decided that further conversations were needed with “security stakeholders” like the police, she said. That wasn’t possible to arrange before tickets went on sale — so in the interests of not having to later refund tickets if the show was scuttled, Ballance said they elected to postpone the initially-scheduled ticket drop until sometime next week.

“We saw the event in Surrey, we had seen the recommendations at the time by the RCMP,” Ballance said, also noting the incident that took place at the previous Calgary show. “When you look at that, and see there have been some incidents at past shows then you have some more fulsome conversations.”

As of Sunday afternoon, Ballance hadn’t heard from anyone in Sidhu Moose Wala’s camp or the show’s promoter, but had been following the grim news about his slaying as it emerged from Indian outlets. In a cached webpage for the Vancouver event, the artist is described as “one of the biggest names in the Punjabi music industry,” boasting more than a billion views across his portfolio of YouTube videos.

Expressions of shock and condolences in the slaying peppered the web throughout Sunday.

Rapper Drake expressed his condolences via a story on Instagram, commenting “RIP MOOSE” and tagging Moose Wala’s Instagram handle.

“Deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of promising Congress leader and talented artist,” Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Indian National Congress party, wrote in a Twitter post.

“My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and fans across the world.”

With a file by Dorcas Marfo

Ande Fraske-Bornyk is a reporter for the Star’s radio room based in Toronto. Reach her via email: afraskebornyk@thestar.ca

Victoria Gibson is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering affordable housing. Reach her via email: victoriagibson@thestar.ca

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