Moosewala’s murder turns focus on Punjab’s deadly gang rivalries

A broad daylight murder of popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala has brought back the glare on the numerous gangs operating in Punjab. If the gun culture is not stopped at this stage it could result in more gruesome outcomes in the days to come, writes Rajendra Khatry

The heady mix of drugs, guns and music with a combination of machismo and alcohol that promote violence is taking a heavy toll on the Punjabi entertainment industry, artists and celebrities. A broad daylight murder of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala has brought back focus on the numerous gangs operating in Punjab extorting money and killing for revenge. If the gun culture and violent gun fights are not stopped at this stage they could result in more gruesome outcomes in the days to come.

Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead by gangsters on May 29 in Jawahar village of Mansa district in a daylight shooting. The incident occurred a day after the Punjab Police Department removed the protection of 424 persons, including Punjabi artist Sidhu Moosewala. Immediately afterwards, the Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar from the Lawrence Bishnoi gang claimed responsibility for Sidhu’s murder.

Meanwhile the Punjab police sought Red Corner Notice for Satinderjit Singh alias Goldy Brar the alleged conspirator of Sidhu Moosewala’s murder. Satinderjit Singh alias Goldy Brar, an active member of Lawrence Bishnoi gang, a native of Muktsar, had gone to Canada on student visa in 2017. Earlier, the Punjab police had sent a proposal to the CBI on May 19, 2022, to issue a Red-Corner notice against Goldy Brar, to pave the way for his extradition to India. Incidentally, the proposal was sent 10 days before Moosewala’s murder.

Punjab Police also sought issuance of Red Corner Notices (RCNs) against gangster-turned-terrorist Harwinder Singh Sandhu alias Rinda of village Rattoke, Tarn Taran, which was sent to the Crime Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on May 5, 2022. Rinda, responsible for setting up several terrorist modules in Punjab is now based in Pakistan. He is allegedly responsible for many terrorist activities in India.

Rinda is allegedly backed by Pakistan’s ISI. He has been responsible for smuggling in huge quantities of arms and ammunition in India. Huge quantity of Arms/Ammunition and IEDs recovered from four terrorists arrested in Karnal recently in a joint operation with Punjab and Haryana police, reportedly belonged to Rinda.

According to the Punjab police records, Rinda was also responsible for the RPG attack on Punjab Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali recently through his operatives, grenade attack on CIA Office, SBS Nagar in November, 2021 and IED attack on police post Kahlwan in Anandpur Sahib, Rupnagar.

Earlier the Punjab Police disclosed the identity of eight shooters involved in the killing of Sidhu Moosewala. Of these, two shooters were from Maharashtra, two from Haryana, three from Punjab and one from Rajasthan. According to the police, all the shooters belonged to the Lawrence Bishnoi gang. Punjab Police contacted the police of the respective states and sought their help. Punjab Police even conducted raids in Haryana-Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in search of gangsters.

The shooters who were identified by the police include Manpreet Manu and Jagroop Singh Roopa of Tarn Taran, Harkamal alias Ranu of Bathinda, Priyavrata Fauji and Manjit Bholu from Sonepat, Saurav Mahakal and Santosh Jadhav from Pune, Maharashtra and Subhash Banoda of Sikar, Rajasthan. Pictures of all these shooters had been released. The Punjab Police suspects that these same shooters had killed Sidhu Moosewala in Mansa on May 29. All these shooters had gathered on the Kotkapura highway three days before their operation.

The Punjab Police managed to arrest Sandeep alias Kekra of Kalanwali, Sirsa for allegedly doing recce of Sidhu Moosewala by becoming a fan. When Sidhu came out of the house, Kekra took a selfie with him and also took a photo of his Thar which he drove. He then informed the shooters that Sidhu had left his house. The killers followed and shot Sidhu dead. So far eight alleged gansters supposed to be suspects have already been arrested from Punjab and Haryana in connection with Sidhu’s murder.

Many Experts feel that there is a certain link between the gangsters and terrorists and there is exchange of drugs as well among them. Many claim that the gangsters of Punjab are these days better armed than the policemen in Punjab. The gangsters are said to possess the latest technology weapons allegedly supplied to them by the terrorists.

The gangster reportedly have the latest technology Russian weapon AN-94 also which was allegedly used in the murder of Sidhu Moosewala. The police suspects that the murder of Sidhu Moosewala was a result of an alliance of gangsters and terrorists. The SIT was set up by Punjab DGP V.K. Bhavra on the instructions of Bhagwant Mann’s AAP government in Punjab was also asked to look into this aspect of the alliance of terrorists and gangsters.

It is true that the frightful gun culture and violent gang fights in Punjab is visible again with the murder of Sidhu Moosewala. According to an estimate, Punjab has around 70 gangs operating. These gangs are reportedly involved in crimes like kidnapping, robbery and even murders. The gangs play a big role in state elections as well. Not that the state government has been inactive in trying to control these gangs, but the government measures have not been very effective against the dreaded gangsters which operate without any fear of the law.

Gangsters and extortionists are also after the Punjabi artists because the Punjabi music industry has become very rich and is the number one music industry in India now. Singers easily get names as well as fame and lots of money but it also becomes easy for gangsters to target them for extortion. Singers like Mankirat Aulakh and Parmish Verma had received death threats and attempts were made to kill them.

The Punjabi music industry often promotes guns and violence through their songs, and the gangsters find Punjabi singers as their soft target. At the same time, Youth is inclined towards these professions. To build an image among the youth the gangsters often target Kabaddi players and singers.

But there is also a fierce cut-throat competition between the gangs and time and again they clash among themselves to gain upper hand. No wonder the death of Sidhu Moosewala is getting linked to a turf war between the Lawrence Bishnoi and the Davinder Bambhia gang.

Incidentally, the notorious gangster Bambhia was killed in an encounter in 2016 but his gang has continued operations. Now this group is led by gangster Gaurav Lucky Patial who is reportedly staying in Armenia. It was the Bambiha gang which had earlier claimed responsibility for the killing of Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera who reportedly was said to be a part of Lawrence Bishnoi gang.

According to sources, a theory making rounds in Punjab is that Moose Wala’s murder was actually a revenge for the killing of Middukhera. It is said that Moosewala had reportedly given protection to those who killed Middukhera.  On an online social media post it was said that Davinder Bambhia gang had allegedly condemned Bishnoi and Brar gang for killing of Moose Wala.

Davinder Bambhia gang was set up by Bambhia whose original name was Davinder Singh Sindhu. The gang has been involved in extorting money from industrialists and invested in the music industry. Lawrence Bishnoi, whose gang claimed to have killed singer Sidhu Moosewala belongs to Punjab’s Ferozepur district.

Gangsters often claim to be social workers. In that capacity they also dispense justice. According to the facebook profile of Lawrence Bishnoi currently lodged in the high-security ward in jail number 8 of Delhi’s Tihar jail, he performs “Samaj Sewa with a different style”.

But according to police records, his gang includes professional shooters and operates from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh. He allegedly has a network spread across the world. The gang allegedly extorts money from people, Punjabi singers and the liquor mafia. Charges on Bishnoi under IPC sections are attempt to murder, assault, robbery and trespassing.


Some dreaded gangsters of Punjab

Some of the known dreaded gangsters of Punjab are Lawrence Bishnoi, Goldy Brar, Vicky Gounder, Dilpreet Singh Dhahan, Gurpreet Singh Sekhon, Tirath Singh Dhilwan, Prema Lahoria, Ravi Deol, Kulpreet Singh Neeta Deol, Jaipal, Saraj Mintoo, Prabhdeep Singh, Jaspreet Singh Goppy and many others.

Lawrence Bishnoi is lodged in Tihar jail. He is accused of killing Sidhu Moosewala through his henchmen. Bishnoi has revealed names of many other gangsters involved in crime in Punjab and other states. Bishnoi’s father was a constable with the Haryana Police. Later, his father had quit the job and took up farming when Lawrence was very young.

Bishnoi graduated with an LLB from Panjab University. In 2009, he joined the student organisation of Punjab University and met the then president of the student body, Goldy Brar. But after his early college years, Bishnoi started getting involved in illegal activities and some cases against him were lodged in Chandigarh as well.

According to police records, the first FIR against Bishnoi was of an attempt to murder. Then there was a case of house-trespassing in April 2010. Later in February 2011, a case of assault and robbery was also registered against him. Bishnoi gained notoriety soon.

Bishnoi made national headlines in 2018 when one of his associates, Sampat Nehra, was arrested for allegedly planning to kill Bollywood filmstar Salman Khan. Bishnois are a community in Haryana and consider blackbucks to be sacred. On the other hand, Salman Khan had been convicted in a blackbuck poaching case way back in 1998. At that time Bishnoi was lodged in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur jail. He allegedly ran his `business’ activities using mobile phones from inside the prison itself.

Gangster Goldy Brar’s real name is Satinder Singh and he is considered a close aide of Lawrence Bishnoi. Brar is also from Punjab, He belongs to Faridkot district. Brar and Bishnoi were reportedly college friends. Last year in September 2021, Brar had taken responsibility on a Facebook post for another murder – that  of  Sham Lal alias Shama, who had five criminal cases registered against him.

According to Punjab police records, it has neutralised 14 dreaded gangsters active in Punjab in the last two years. Dilpreet Singh Dhahan was arrested in Chandigarh this year. Seven gangsters were killed and seven were arrested. But three notorious gangsters are still out of reach of the police.

In a tough encounter, Punjab’s most wanted gangster Harjinder Singh Bhullar, alias Vicky Gounder was killed at Pakki village in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan, close to the Punjab border. Vicky was wanted in 20 cases in different states.

Another gangster Tirath Singh Dhilwan is also now in police custody. Gangster Gurbaksh Sewewala is now in police custody. He was a member of the Davinder Bambiha Group. He was arrested after an encounter in Bathinda in May 2017. Gurbaksh faced 12 cases of murder, attempt to murder, loot, and ransom in Punjab. Gangster Tirath Singh Dhilwan is also now in police custody. Tirath was wanted for 10 contract killings and highway robberies.

One of the most powerful gangsters, Jaipal is on the run now. He is son of a former police officer from Ferozepur district.  It was Jaipal who reportedly killed gangster Jaswinder Rocky in Himachal Pradesh.

Another gangster Prema Lahoria was also killed in an encounter.  Yet another gangster Gurpreet Sekhon was arrested  by the Punjab police in February 2017. Sekhon reportedly was a mastermind of the Nabha jailbreak.

Davinder Bambiha was said to be one of the most dangerous gangsters in Punjab. He was killed in encounter by Punjab Police in 2016 because of his alleged criminal activities. His group is still active in Punjab. Recently, the Davinder Bambiha group claimed responsibility for threatening Punjabi singer Mankirt Aulakh in their Facebook post. The Gangs of Punjab are known to target Punjabi singers and Kabaddi players.

The growing promotion of gun culture and drugs in Punjabi music videos and songs is a matter of great concern for the society. Now Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has appealed to the singers not to promote violence in their songs. Many of these singers have a huge fan following and they easily influence the younger generation drawing them towards violence and drugs. The CM has even warned of strict action if the artists continue to neglect the ‘ethical’ codes.

It is sad that the Rs 700 crore Punjabi music industry has been under the scanner with popular singers releasing songs and videos that glorify violence, enmity, drugs and gun culture. Over the years, Punjab has been known for its rich heritage, valor, traditions, but the gun culture is destroying that image. Punjabi artists can play a constructive role in restoring the glorious culture of the state.