PUNJABI singer Sidhu Moose Wala will not be performing at the 5X Fest after the City of Surrey let the promoter know in its own way that that would not be acceptable in view of the history of violence at his shows in Canada.
The 5X Fest – with which the VIBC has replaced the City of Bhangra festival – features contemporary desi culture from around the globe.
Laurie Cavan, General Manager of City of Surrey’s Parks, Recreation and Culture, said in a statement: “Given the public safety issues that have occurred at past performances, which included a stabbing at a concert in Surrey and shots fired at an event in Calgary earlier this year, the City’s Festival Events Team felt that is was not in the best interest of public safety to support this performance at a family friendly, all ages event.”
She added: “As a result, the team requested the event promoter to modify their entertainment lineup.”
Surrey RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Chad Greig told The VOICE: “We provided an assessment to the City of Surrey and so the City of Surrey made a final decision.”
He added: “We always do assessments when it comes to large gatherings in the City. It’s a collaborative effort between the City and the RCMP. We do it for Canada Day, we do it for the Cloverdale Rodeo, we do it for Vaisakhi. We do assessments like that all the time.”
On February 15, a male was stabbed at Surrey’s Bollywood Banquet Hall where Moose Wala was performing. The suspect in the case turned himself in on April 30 after police released his photo to the media.
THE violence promoted in songs by Punjabi singers has been vehemently criticized even in the Indian state of Punjab where the state government last year announced the setting up of the Punjab Culture Commission in March 2018 “to check vulgarity and content that promotes violence and drugs in Punjabi songs, the government on Saturday announced to set up the Punjab Culture Commission,” according to the Indian newspaper Tribune.
But just last November, the newspaper reported: “Although much has been said and written about Punjabi songs that promote violence, weapons and drugs, neither the singers or lyricists or music promoters, nor the newly formed Culture Commission has taken up this issue seriously.” It referred to an incident at Punjab University where Punjabi singer-actor Mankirt Aulakh performed his song Gangland that led to police intervention.
The Tribune noted: “Whether it’s Aulakh’s Gangland or Sidhu Moose Wala’s Dawood, these songs enjoy wide viewership despite the protests. Young lyricist Shubhkarman Bal says, “If you think Punjabi singers have taken the warning or opposition against such songs seriously, you have a fresh example in PU. At the same time, how can we blame the singers? They are only paid to perform, and, more than once, I have seen that people, at private functions, events and musical shows, do not differentiate good songs from bad ones; it is all about having fun.””