Indian rapper's murder sparks false claim that 'Punjab minister was pictured with suspect'

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After the murder of a popular rapper in the northern Indian state of Punjab, a picture was shared in multiple social media posts that claimed it showed his killer "taking responsibility" for the crime while posing with the state's chief minister Bhagwant Mann. But a senior superintendent for Punjab police told AFP that the posts had falsely incriminated a Punjab businessman who shares the same name as the suspect in the murder case.

The picture, a screenshot of a Facebook post, was shared on Twitter here on May 30, 2022.

"In this photo, Goldy Brar, who is standing with Bhagwant Mann, has taken responsibility for the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala," the Hindi-language tweet reads in part, referring to a photo posted on Facebook on March 10.

"Now the question is on whose behest the security of Moose Wala was removed."

Screenshot of the false post captured on June 3, 2022

Rapper Sidhu Moose Wala -- who had a major following both at home and among the diaspora in Canada and Britain -- was gunned down by unidentified assailants on May 29 while driving his SUV. He was 28.

Police had said the rapper had reduced his security detail in the week before his murder, and speculated that the killing was linked to "inter-gang rivalry".

A Canada-based gangster known as Goldy Brar has claimed responsibility for Moose Wala’s murder, according to the state's police chief, Viresh Kumar Bhawra.

The image has been shared with the same claim on Facebook here, here and here; and on Twitter here.

However, the claim is false.

Businessman from Punjab

AFP was able to trace the Facebook post circulating on social media to an account belonging to businessman Goldy Brar from the city of Mohali in Punjab state.

A senior superintendent with the Punjab police, Bhuipindar Singh Siddhu, said they are investigating the matter.

"His picture has been shared with the false claim," he told AFP on June 1.

Brar told AFP on May 31: "My old picture with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is being shared with the false claim. I have also spoken to the police after which I will also take legal action in this matter.

"I have nothing to do with Sidhu's murder."

Brar's Facebook page has been locked since May 31.

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