Opinion | Moose Wala murder: Stop this gang war in Punjab

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Aaj Ki Baat with Rajat Sharma.

Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu alias Sidhu Moose Wala was a popular Punjabi singer, who was killed by 8 to 10 gangsters in a gruesome attack on May 29. He was going to his aunt’s village in Mansa district, when his Mahindra Thar SUV was blocked and the attackers fired more than 30 rounds with the help of Russian assault rifles from three sides.

Moose Wala fired back two rounds from his pistol, but this was no match against the attack. The attackers fled in two vehicles and are yet to be caught. Moose Wala was on the list of 424 persons, whose personal security was reduced by the AAP government in Punjab. Though his personal security was reduced, he did not take his remaining two security guards with him in his jeep.

Soon after the muder, Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar claimed responsibility for this murder on Facebook. Goldy Brar said the murder was committed in retaliation over the murder of Youth Akali leader Vikramjit Singh alias Vicky Middukhera last year.

The name of Moose Wala’s manager Shaganpreet Singh had cropped up after Vicky’s murder. Shaganpreet fled to Australia last year. Goldy Brar is a close aide of another gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who is now being questioned, but according to Delhi Police, he “is not cooperating”.

Bishnoi claims he has nothing to do with this murder.

The chief of Punjab Police SIT (Special Investigation Team) SSP Gaurav Toora claimed that his team has found some vital leads about the attackers.

“We now know from where they came, how they conducted a recce and how they escaped”, the SIT head said. Already two gangsters have been brought from Ferozepur and Bhatinda jails for questioning by SIT.

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The Moose Wala murder case has become a big headache for the incumbent AAP Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann. Not a single attacker has been arrested four days after the murder took place.

Punjab Police officials say, the murder was planned from inside jail, and the questioning is on who provided the vehicles for carrying out the murder. 

A few days ago, Delhi Police had picked up a shooter named Shahrukh, who told, during questioning, that Lawrence Bishnoi had given ‘supari’ for Moose Wala’s murder.

Shahrukh admitted that he had conducted recce on Moose Wala for several days, but could not get close to the singer as he had a large number of security personnel with him.

Soon after Moosewala’s murder another criminal gang from Punjab led by Davinder Bambiha, in a social media post, had threatened singer Mankirat Aulakh. It was said that Aulakh’s manager was actively involved in the murder of Moose Wala, and that retaliation would take place within two days.

Mankirat Aulah, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought protection. In a video released by him, Aulakh said, “Moose Wala was like my brother…it is incorrect to link my name to his murder.”

Aulakh’s fear is understandable. One singer has been killed and a gangster sitting in Canada has taken responsibility. Lawrence Bishnoi’s lawyer may well claim that his client is inside high-security jail and he could not have been involved in the murder. But the fact is, Lawrence Bishnoi’s men have been regularly posting on Facebook about he was living inside jail.

Lawrence Bishnoi had once claimed that he spoke to Moose Wala over phone from Jodhpur jail and had sought retaliation for Vicky Middukheda’s murder.

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Punjab Police officials admit that there are more than 70 criminal gangs presently active in the state. They indulge in extortions from celebrities, indirectly control kabaddi league, grab properties and run crime syndicates for drugs and weapon smuggling rackets.

These gangs take much interest in Punjabi music industry. Some of the big gangsters live abroad, like Goldy Brar in Canada, Lucky Patial in Armenia.

Other gangsters like Lawrence Bishnoi, Kala Jathedi and Jaggu Bhagwanpuria are behind bars, but they effectively run their gangs from inside jails. Punjabi singers like Ashok Masti and BJP MP-cum-singer Hansraj Hans admit that gangsters are openly involved in the music industry.

The killings by these gangs are clear indications about a battle for supremacy that is going on. The Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which earlier used to be a localised one, engaged in extortions and land grabbing, has now spread its wings.

From targeted killings by taking orders from foreign shores, controlling Kabaddi tournaments, and launching albums of Punjabi singers on YouTube are now new avenues of raking in money. He joined hands with gangs led by Jitender Gogi in Delhi and Sandeep alias Kala Jathedi in Haryana, and in Rajasthan he tied up with slain gangster Anandpal’s henchmen.

Bishnoi gang is facing fierce competition from the criminal gang led by Davinder Bambiha and Gaurav alias Lucky Patial in Punjab. Bambiha was killed in an encounter, but his gang was resurrected with the help of Khalistani gangster Rinda Sandhu.

To counter thim, Bishnoi tied up with Canada-based Goldy Brar. On the other hand, to counter Bishnoi gang, Bambiha-Patial gang  has tied up with gangster Kaushal in Haryana, Jitender Gogi’s rivals Sunil alias Tillu Tajpuriya and Neeraj Bawana. Gangster Jitender Gogi was kille din broad daylight inside the Rohini court premises. In Punjab, they murdered international kabaddi player Sandeep Singh Sidhu in Jalandhar two months ago.

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The spread of tentacles of rival criminal gangs across a wide swathe of northern India is really worrying. Moosewala was a Punjabi singer, and he contested Punjab assembly elections on Congress ticket and lost. The singer-gangster nexus that is emerging during the investigation, was already known to people in Punjab and Delhi. Even political leaders knew about this nexus but remained silent.

In the earlier stage, gangsters in Punjab used to extort money from singers in the name of protection money, but later, it was difficult to suppress their greed for money. The gangsters now wanted video rights of singers’ albums, which had a two-fold advantage. The white money earned from YouTube from video rights was used for money laundering too. They showed that they were making earnings from singers’ albums.

The gangsters then forced the singers to put the names of their gangs on the albums, to upstage other gangs. The singers were caught in a web of fear, ‘dadagiri’ and greed.  They became scapegoats in the battle for supremacy among gangs. Singers were killed in broad daylight. Moose Wala was a popular Punjabi singer who became the scapegoat in this gang war. Other Punjabi singers are also fearing for their lives.

This is not the case of a single murder. It is clearly a gang war. It is the responsibility of Punjab government Punjab Police to put an end to this gang war and strike fear in the minds of all gangsters. They must take steps so that Punjabi singers stop fearing for their lives.

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