Indian police say have arrested three men accused of murdering hip-hop star Sidhu Moose Wala and that they have seized a cache of weaponry including a grenade launcher from the suspects.
Moose Wala – also known by his birth name Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu – was shot dead in his car in the northern state of Punjab last month.
The 28-year-old was a popular musician both in India and among Punjabi communities abroad, especially in Canada and Britain.
Special police commissioner HS Dhaliwal told reporters in Delhi on Monday that three suspects were arrested in the western state of Gujarat over the weekend.
Police said they had recovered high-explosive grenades, a grenade launcher, an assault rifle, electric detonators and pistols from the suspects.
The police have said that one of those arrested was in touch with Goldy Brar, who they described as a Canadian-based gangster. “Brar called one of the shooters on the day of the incident and ordered him to ensure the murder of Moose Wala,” a police officer told the Hindustan Times newspaper. “If guns don’t work, kill him in a blast, was his order,” the officer said.
According to local media reports, someone calling himself Goldy Brar allegedly claimed responsibility for organising the rapper’s murder in an unverified Facebook post
Moose Wala rose to fame with catchy songs that attacked rival rappers and politicians, portraying himself as a man who fought for his community’s pride, delivered justice and gunned down enemies.
He was criticised for promoting gun culture through his music videos, in which he regularly posed with firearms.
Police have linked the murder to organised crime in Punjab, which is a major transit route for drugs entering India from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many observers link the narcotics trade – mostly heroin and opium – to an uptick in gang-related violence and the use of illegal arms in the state.