Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editors: Prajjwal Kumar, Abhishek Sharma
The India tour of popular Canada-based Punjabi singer Shubhneet Singh, who goes by the stage name Shubh, was cancelled on 20 September, Wednesday, amid uproar over sharing a purportedly distorted map of India earlier this year.
Ticketing platform BookMyShow said on X (formerly Twitter), "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 singer, who rose to fame after songs like Cheques, We Rollin and Elevated, shared an Instagram story of a map of India where the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and parts of Northeast India were covered with a shadow and "Pray for Punjab" was written alongside it.
The story was posted around March 2023 when the Punjab Police were searching for now-arrested Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh – and a number of people in the state were being detained or summoned for questioning. However, it is important to note that the singer has no previous history of support for the pro-Khalistan movement, contrary to online allegations. Moreover, the posted a calrification apoligising for the incident.
Moreover, the incident has come to light just a day after India-Canada tensions peaked due to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments around the involvement of agents of the Indian government in the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar and the expulsion of a top diplomats stationed in India and Canada by the other side.
On Tuesday, 19 September, graphic artist Amandeep Singh, who is the creator of the purportedly distorted map and uses the psydonym ‘Inkquisitive’, said on social media platform X that Shubh had shared his artwork.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Singh had clarified after being questioned by users on Instagram in March, when the image was first posted, and said that 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.”Amandeep Singh's clarification, according to The Indian Express.
“It was a visual expression on a police man taking the plug out of Panjab due to the ‘blackout in Panjab’,” he said.
Just a day prior to Shubh's India tour getting cancelled, Indian electronics brand boAt, on 19 September, had announced that it would no longer sponsor Shubh's India concert, and said:
"At boAt, while our commitment to the incredible music community runs deep, we are first & 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 from the tour."
Shubh was scheduled to perform in Mumbai from 23 to 25 September as part of the Cordelia Cruise 'Cruise Control 4.0' event. He was also scheduled to perform in New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.
In Mumbai, the Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), had launched a protest against the singer and began removing posters promoting the concert.
BJYM President Tajinder Singh Tiwana told news agency ANI:
"There is no space for Khalistanis who are the enemy of integrity and unity of India. We won't let Canadian singer Shubh perform on the auspicious land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mumbai...If no proper action is taken then the organisers will have to face the revolt..."
Reports also said that the BJYM submitted a memorandum to Mumbai's Commissioner of Police, demanding action against Shubh, the registration of an FIR and the cancellation of all his performances.
Several social media users have also pointed out that Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, who has often posted videos playing Shubh's music, unfollowed the singer on Instagram after the controversy. Many said that fellow cricketers KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya followed Kohli's footsteps.