Every morning, Balkaur Singh wakes up, takes a cloth and cleans the bullet-ridden Thar vehicle that his singer-son Sidhu Moose Wala last drove on May 29, 2022, the day he was mercilessly gunned down in broad daylight.
“I will drive it now in Punjab for justice. It was my son’s ‘last ride’ and I’ve kept it that way,” Singh tells News18 at his house in Moosa village in Punjab, referring to his son’s last song prophetically titled ‘The Last Ride’.
It is Sunday and hundreds of people are here to meet him in this small village in what resembles a fair — some have come from as far as Australia, Canada, and the USA, given the ‘cult following’ of the Punjabi singer. The high-level security tries to keep Singh away from the visitors and his haveli is almost a fortress under some heavy police cover.
#WATCH | ‘So High’ on Love for Sidhu Moose Wala: Cult Lives on Even After Singer’s ‘Last Ride’@AmanKayamHai_ brings us this News18 Special report #SidhuMooseWala #Punjab pic.twitter.com/LK7047feuk— News18 (@CNNnews18) February 21, 2023
There is a long queue of people outside the house to get in as police note down details of each visitor and there is a security check. Outside the house, there is a stream of hawkers selling ‘Sidhu Moose Wala’ memorabilia such as his photographs, T-shirts, bandanas, books, coffee mugs and key-chains, which people are buying by the dozen. Inside the house, the bullet-ridden Thar vehicle and tractors of the Moose Wala family are on display and Balkaur Singh makes an address to the people every Sunday.
Men, women and children from all over turn up here that day.
NO JUSTICE FOR ME, SAYS FATHER
“I have not got justice. The investigators caught some people who shot at my son, but the real masterminds are at large. I want gangster Goldy Brar arrested, in Canada or wherever he is, and brought to India. It has been 10 months,” Singh tells News18. As he speaks about Sidhu, he occasionally breaks down and his eyes well up.
Sidhu was his only son. Sidhu contested on a Congress ticket in the last Punjab elections, but lost. Singh joined Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra lately when it passed through Punjab.
Sidhu’s killing shook Punjab politics last year and continues to haunt the year-old Bhagwant Mann government of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The state had withdrawn Moose Wala’s security days before his killing and then publicised the fact, which made the assailants plan his assassination, the investigation showed. Police charged gangster Lawrence Bishnoi for planning the murder from jail on instructions of Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar. There is an Interpol red-corner notice against Brar, but he remains at large as on date.
“I am angry. I know you are also angry. We will show that anger too, but peacefully. Please, never damage any public property if you love Sidhu,” Singh tells the crowd at his house on Sunday. He tells the crowd that he plans to bid a final farewell to his son next month by holding a paath and langar in Mansa. Many in the crowd are in tears as Singh speaks. “My son should have held a remembrance for me, but I am doing one for him. It is all god’s wish. God has punished me, so I will have to stay alone. This is my penance,” he told News18.
VISITORS FROM FAR
News18 met visitors to Sidhu’s house from as far as Canada, Australia and USA. Sukhpal Singh says he has come from Vancouver in Canada as he had heard so much about Sidhu Moose Wala’s village after his death. “I heard his family meets people on Sundays. He was a celebrity, a truly digital star, his songs were superhits. He was the son of our district, we are so proud of him. We want to be part of his parents’ grief, we are not here to click photos or make blogs. He has not done anything shameful. He never sang songs about drugs, he spoke about the Sikh community…Sidhu ek bada daur tha jo khatam ho gaya,” Singh said.
Gurvinder Singh was here from Seattle, USA with his entire family. “My son is Sidhu’s fan. We wanted to come here. The day he was killed, we were shattered. We want the government to give his family justice as otherwise people will lose faith. The crime situation in Punjab has taken a turn for the worse,” Gurvinder Singh said. A youngster Ashudeep Singh is here from Brisbane and said he was hurt on hearing from Balkaur Singh that his son has not got justice. “They have now given the family so much security. Why did they withdraw Sidhu’s security? He would have been alive if the security was in place,” he says.
Manjinder Singh says he has come from Canada and drove four hours from his house in Kapurthala in Punjab to reach Moosa village. “I saw the bullet-ridden Thar vehicle which Sidhu Moose Wala was driving that day. How can someone be killed so brutally in broad daylight,” he asks.
A girl, Jasnoor Kaur, breaks into a song dedicated to Sidhu Moose Wala — ‘Ae tere badle Sidhu putra maut meinu le jandi (May I have died in your place)’ — and breaks down. Children and youngsters here want to be clicked with Sidhu’s Thar and tractors.
As we are leaving, Balkaur Singh makes it a point to say that sometimes people say he is threatening the government. “I am not threatening anyone. I only want justice. I have never appealed to any party or religious body to help me. I have not called anyone here too. My support are these people who come here every Sunday to meet me,” Singh told News18.
The AAP government has said it will rename a road going to the Moosa village after Sidhu Moose Wala.
Sidhu may be dead, but his cult is very much alive in Punjab and far beyond, so are his songs.
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