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Shubh’s tour in India cancelled: Why is the Canada-based singer facing the music?

The upcoming tour of Punjabi singer and rapper Shubhneet Singh, popularly known by his stage name ‘Shubh’, was cancelled on Wednesday, days after he made headlines for his alleged support for Khalistan and separatists.

Ticketing platform BookMyShow, in a post on X, said: “Singer Shubhneet Singh’s Still Rollin Tour for India stands cancelled. To that end, BookMyShow has initiated a complete refund of the ticket amount for all consumers who had purchased tickets for the show. The refund will be reflected within 7-10 working days in the customer’s source account of the original transaction.”

The Canada-based singer was scheduled to perform in several cities, including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Kolkata over the next two months. He was also listed among the headliners of a cruise festival scheduled later this week aboard Cordelia Cruises in Mumbai.

The development came amid the ongoing protests, led by  Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) – the youth wing of BJP – in Mumbai, against Shubh. One of the demands of BJYM was to cancel the singer’s tour and show. They had earlier written to the Mumbai police, asking them to register an FIR against Shubh “for waging war against Government of India and posting anti-government posts”.

What is the controversy?

BJYM has alleged that on March 23, 2023, Shubh posted two stories on his Instagram account, which had a distorted map of India without Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, along with the caption “Pray for Punjab”.

The memorandum submitted by BJYM to the Mumbai police stated that the intention of the singer was to show that Punjab is not a part of India and to propagate the Khalistani agenda.

“Shubh is openly a Khalistani supporter and if he is allowed to hold a concert here, he will be influencing a lot of youth in Mumbai and our country to support his agenda…He has evidently proven that he is a pro-Khalistani activist and openly supports their agenda and [he] is also influencing the youth of the country to do the same and wage a war against the Government of India by posting such absurd and derogatory post about Government of India,” the complaint read.

BJYM President Tajinder Singh Tiwana told the media, “We won’t let singer Shubh perform in the auspicious land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mumbai. If no proper action is taken then the organisers will have to face our protests.”

Also in Explained | The Khalistan shadow on India-Canada ties, over the years

What is the contentious social media post which has sparked outrage?

Shubh shared a distorted map of India on Instagram in March, amid the police crackdown against self-proclaimed Sikh preacher and ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh and his associates. He posted the image after the Punjab government suspended mobile internet services across the state.

On Tuesday (September 19), illustrator and graphic artist Amandeep Singh, known by the pseudonym ‘Inkquisitive’, the creator of the alleged ‘distorted map’, said on X that Shubh had shared his artwork.

“It was a visual expression on a police man taking the plug out of Panjab due to the ‘blackout in Panjab’,” Singh tweeted through his X handle Inkquisitive.

Singh had earlier issued a clarification on Instagram after people questioned him in comments regarding the depiction of the map. He said it was “not done intentionally to provoke any sort of separate state agenda”.

“… apologies to those living in Jammu and Kashmir or any other big or smaller state not showcased. to those who may feel offended by feeling their hometown or land is not part of India, it is not my intentions [sic], far from it. If anything i was just keeping that side of the map unclear and dark as Punjab wasn’t lit up…my platform is always used to share topics (as much as my career allows me to) – on injustices around the world.”

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The fallout of the controversy

Before the cancellation of Shubh’s “Still Rolling India Tour”, electronics brand boAt on Tuesday announced that it has withdrawn sponsorship of the tour, citing that it was “first and foremost a true Indian brand”.

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In a statement, the company said, “At boAt, while our commitment to the incredible music community runs deep, we are first and foremost a true Indian brand. Therefore, when we became aware of the remarks made by artist Shubh earlier this year, we chose to withdraw our sponsorship of the tour.”

According to reports, several celebrities and cricketers have unfollowed Shubh on social media, following the controversy.

The singer-songwriter is yet to comment on the matter. Earlier this week, he posted a cryptic story on Instagram of a picture of a mic with his song ‘Baller’ in the background.

Who is Shubh?

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Hailing from Punjab and now settled in Canada, Shubh burst onto the scene with his breakout debut single ‘We Rollin’ in September 2021. His blend of catchy hip-hop and trap beats and fast lyrical flow, gained massive popularity as he released several hit singles such as ‘No Love’, ‘Elevated’ and ‘Baller’. He has over a million followers on Instagram and recently released another album ‘Still Rollin’, which featured the viral track ‘Cheques’.

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