Chandigarh: Famous Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead in Punjab's Mansa district, a day after the state government withdrew his security cover.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Mansa) Gobinder Singh told PTI that several bullets hit Moosewala, 27, who was in his jeep at village Jawahar Ke when he was attacked.
Mansa civil surgeon Dr Ranjeet Rai told reporters that Moosewala was brought dead at the civil hospital.
He had fought on the Congress ticket from Mansa assembly seat in the recent assembly election and was defeated by AAP's Dr Vijay Singla.
Leaders of the Congress and other political leaders expressed shock and anger over the killing of Moosewala and attacked the AAP government for withdrawing his security cover.
''The murder of Shri Sidhu Moose Wala, Congress candidate from Punjab & a talented musician, has come as a terrible shock to the Congress party & the entire nation. Our deepest condolences to his family, fans & friends.
''We stand united & undeterred, at this time of extreme grief,'' the Congress party tweeted.
Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, who played a major role in bringing Moosewala into the Congress fold, said he was "shocked beyond belief and expression".
''He was showered with bullets in Mansa just 2 days after @BhagwantMann govt withdrew his security. @AAPPunjab govt has lost moral authority. It must be DISMISSED (sic), said Warring in a tweet.
Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, known as Sidhu Moosewala, was among 424 people whose security was withdrawn by the Punjab Police on Saturday.
The others included former MLAs, two Jathedars of Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib, heads of Deras and serving and retired policemen.
Moosewala had joined the Congress last year ahead of the Punjab assembly polls.
Sidhu Moose Wala murder result of inter-gang rivalry: Punjab DGP
Punjab Director General of Police V K Bhawra on Sunday said the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala seemed to be the result of an inter-gang rivalry and that the Lawrence Bishnoi gang was involved in it.
He said a special investigation team (SIT) has been set up to investigate the incident.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Bathinda Range, Pardeep Yadav constituted the three-member SIT to ensure effective and speedy investigation of the murder. The team includes SP (investigation) Mansa Dharamveer Singh, DSP (Investigation) Bathinda Vishawajeet Singh and in-charge CIA Mansa Prithipal Singh.
Addressing the media here, the DGP said, This incident seems to be a case of an inter gang rivalry.
He said the name of Moose Wala's manager Shaganpreet had figured in the murder of youth Akali leader Vicky Middukhera last year. Shagunpreet had fled to Australia.
This murder appeared to be in retaliation of Middukhera's murder, the top police officer said.
He said the Lawrence Bishnoi gang was behind this incident, adding that one of the members of the gang from Canada had taken the responsibility of the murder.
According to official sources, one Canada-based Goldy Brar had claimed the responsibility of the murder of Moose Wala.
There is an inter-gang rivalry between Lawrence Bishnoi gang and Lucky Patial gang, they said.
Notably, three shooters identified as Sunny, Anil Lath and Bholu -- all residents of Haryana -- had already been arrested by Delhi Police's Special Cell in connection with the murder of Middukhera, while Shaganpreet was named as accused in the FIR registered in this case.
DGP Bhawra said four Punjab police commandos had been deployed with the singer.
He said every year, security is thinned out because of the anniversary of Operation Bluestar and 'Ghalughara week' next month.
Two commandos of Moose Wala were also withdrawn. But he did not take two of his remaining commandos along with him, the police official noted.
He said the popular singer chose not to take his private bullet proof vehicle as well.
The DGP further said 30 empty bullet shells have been recovered and at least three weapons like 9 mm and 455 bore appeared to have been used in the crime.
Giving more details of the incident, he said Moose Wala left his house around 4:30 pm along with Gurwinder Singh (neighbour) and Gurpreet Singh (cousin). The singer was driving the vehicle.
Bhawra said when Moose Wala reached Jawahar Ke village, they were followed by a car and were intercepted from the front by two vehicles.
"There was heavy firing from the front on Sidhu Moosewala, he said, adding that the police team reached the spot immediately and the trio was taken to Civil Hospital Mansa where the singer was declared brought dead.
His cousin and friend are in stable condition, and have been referred to Patiala for further treatment.