Two days after a posthumous Sidhu Moosewala track named SYL went live, YouTube India took down the upload on June 26, citing a ‘legal complaint from the government’ as the reason.
The track, which amassed nearly 30 million views before being taken down, was produced by MXRCI and both written and recorded by Moosewala, before he was fatally shot on May 29.
In a nutshell, the song touches on sensitive issues surrounding the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal (SYL), a longstanding point of contention between the states of Haryana and Punjab. While Haryana has been pushing for the construction of the canal in order to receive its share of the water from the Ravi-Beas rivers, Punjab has been asking for a reconsideration of its claim.
The song’s lyrics focus on highlighting the need for resolution between both parties – with the refrain going as follows:
Ohna Chir Paani Chhaddo (until you solve the problem)
Tupka Ni Dende (Till then we will not give you even a drop of water)
‘The problem’, on observing the lyrics, seems quite vague until you link together both the visuals and the verses Moosewala had written. The imagery, designed by Roomi Studios’ Navkaran Brar, stitches together various clips from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and videos from Red Fort on the 2021 Republic Day during the more recent anti-farm bill riots.
At the start of the song, Moosewala claims that this long-standing dispute between the two states resulted in thousands of Sikhs losing their lives in riots. He then went on to glorify the ‘return’ of Balwinder Jatana – a ‘Babbar Khalsa’ with Khalistani affiliations, who shot dead two engineers working on the canal project back in 1990. This set back the canal’s progress by several years, as no officer was willing to risk their lives to work on the SYL, though Jatana was killed in a police encounter in 1991.
Je Na Tale Phir Mudd (If you do not back down)
Balwinder Jatana Aayu (balwinder jatana will return)
Pher Putt Begane Nehra Ch (Then the Jatt boys)
Dekan Laa Hi Dinde (will stop the water of the canals)
Apart from glorifying a famous murder accused in the song’s lyrics and its cover art, Moosewala’s video also depicts visuals of an animated bombing of the canal itself, making it no surprise that the video would be taken down.
The images and lyrics can be interpreted to be in direct violation of Indian Penal Code sections 153A and 505, both of which have been applied on media which ‘disturbs public tranquility’ or incites ‘offenses against the state’.
While YouTube has taken the video down, other streaming platforms are yet to take action against Moosewala’s song, making it unclear whether the government has taken issue with the music video or the lyrics specifically. No specific authority from the central or state government has taken responsibility for the request to deplatform the song on YouTube.
Haryanvi singer Masoom Sharma released a rebuttal track on Sunday titled SYL Haryanvi, in which he argues in favor of the canal being built for his home state’s right to water.
Moosewala’s team has yet to comment on the issue.
(Featured Image Credits: Sidhu Moosevala)