SYL, Punjab’s Right Over Chandigarh: Issues Dear to Separatists Find Echo In Moosewala’s Latest Song

The song, released over a month after his killing, is already a mega hit with 14 million hits on Youtube in less than 24 hours of its release.

(Screengrab: YouTube/ Sidhu Moose Wala)

Chandigarh: Slain Punjabi rapper Sidhu Moosewala’s latest song SYL is a departure from his earlier songs. Not glorifying weapons, as in many of his previous numbers, the lyrics of the latest song refer to issues like Punjab’s right over river water – the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal has been at the heart of the Khalistani movement. The song also talks about Punjab’s right over Chandigarh, the common capital of Haryana and Punjab. These issues have generally been closer to the hearts of panthics and pro-Khalistan voices like former IPS officer-turned-politician Simranjit Singh Mann. If a chronology to the weapons-to-waters story was to be written, it could possibly evolve like this.

Instant success in the world of Punjabi music propelled rapper-cum-singer Sidhu Moosewala to dizzying heights of fame, one possible reason why he seemed like a man in a hurry. At 24, he became a star rapper, and at 29 he joined politics. Did he fear the worst? A former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, sometime back suggested that Moosewala had joined Congress to get security since he faced threat to his life.

Even the titles of his last two songs – The Last Ride and 295 – seem to have an uncanny link to his death. He died on May 29 or 29/5 this year. His friends who were with him during their last ride at Jawaharke village had revealed that they were listening to The Last Ride when bullets were pumped into him.

Two months before that, Moosewala had fought elections on a Congress ticket from the Mansa Assembly segment but lost by a big margin to Aam Aadmi Party’s Vijay Singla.

He possibly thought that politics would be like lyrics-writing, where one could change the script whenever one wanted. After he lost to Singla, he did try to change his political line. He was done with the Congress, at least, that is the impression one gets from the lyrics of SYL which shows his sudden right-wing turn in politics. One reason could be the fact that he was seen with Simranjit Singh Mann a couple of times in the days before his killing.

Like all his previous songs, in SYL also he drums up passion. The first line of his new song SYL is worded thus: Saanu sadda pichhokad te sadda laana de deyo, Chandigarh Himachal te Haryana de deyo. And accompanying the lyrics are the visuals showing undivided Punjab (lehnda Punjab) or the Punjab of Pakistan and charda Punjab or the erstwhile Punjab of India. There is a clear demand for Greater Punjab.

Except for the constant rousing, there is a dangerous departure in the Moosewala muse. There is no mention of guns, pistols, or AK-47s. Instead, he drums up Punjab’s issues in his sharp, high-pitched voice: Oh Jinna Chir Saanu, Sovereignty Da Raah Ni Dinde, Ona Chir Paani Chhado Tupka Ni Dinde (Till the time they do not give us sovereignty, they will not get a drop of water).

That Moosewala was in the process of taking an extreme right political turn before his death is clear from the fourth verse in the SYL lyrics.

Like the extremist Sikh leader Simranjit Singh Mann and Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal he also makes a point about the release of bandi Sikhs: “Oh Jinna Chir Saade Hath’o Hathkadiya Laah Ni Dinde, Ona Chir Paani Chhado, Tupka Ni Dinde (Till the time you don’t unshackle the handcuffs of bandi Sikhs, you will not get a drop of water – referring to their release from jail).

He then goes: “Oh Dabke De Naal Mangde, O Asi Taan Ni Dinde. (Because you seek by force, that is the reason we won’t ever give you).”

The song ends with a warning that my pen will not stop writing newer songs: Oh Kalam Ni Rukni Nitt Nvaa Hun Gaana Aau. And then he forewarns Je Na Tale Fir Mud Balwinder Jattana Aau. And if you still don’t stop, many Balwinder Jattanas will emerge. Balwinder Jattana is the man responsible for stopping the construction of the SYL canal. Jattana killed SYL chief engineers MS Sikri and Avtar Singh Aulakh when they were discussing the strategy for the construction of the SYL canal way back in 1990.

The refrain in the song is political. Through the song, Moosewala is stoking fire into the issue of SYL – that everyone wants should remain an unsettled question, except during the elections. And he wants Punjab to go forward in reverse – the abolition of the Punjab Re-Organisation Act 1966 and sovereignty.