When the Gun Goes Down: Will AAP’s Shot Against Punjab’s Firearm Culture Hit the Mark? Explained

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The Punjab government on Sunday banned the public display of firearms, including on social media, and songs allegedly promoting gun culture and violence, as it tightened regulations after facing flak from the Opposition over the law and order situation.

The state government also directed a review of arms licences within the next three months, with no new licence to be issued during the period, and surprise checks, according to an official order. A complete ban should be imposed on carrying and displaying weapons at public gatherings, religious places, wedding ceremonies and other events, the order said.

Why Has Punjab Done This & What Does the Order Say?

The Bhagwant Mann government has been under fire from opposition parties – Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP – for the alleged deteriorating law and order situation after a string of sensational killings.

The state witnessed the murder of Shiv Sena (Taksali) leader Sudhir Suri on November 4 and Dera Sacha Sauda follower Pardeep Singh on November 10. Both of them were under police protection. Earlier the killing of international Kabaddi player Sandeep Nangal Ambian in Jalandhar in March and the brutal murder of singer Sidhu Moosewala in May had sparked outrage.

There was also a rocket-propelled grenade attack at the Punjab police intelligence headquarters in Mohali and After the murder of the Dera follower, the opposition parties had said that the state had become the “terror capital” of the country with a reign of anarchy. The state’s home department, in a missive to the police head, commissioners of police, deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police, said the chief minister had issued directions to take these steps to maintain law and order in the state.

According to the order, songs that glorify weapons and violence should be completely banned. There should be a complete ban on public display of weapons including on social media, the order said.

It stated that within three months, there should be a review of arms licenses issued till now and if any arm license is found issued to any wrong person, it should be cancelled immediately. The order further stated that no new arms license will be issued in the next three months. Such a license should only be issued if the concerned official is satisfied at a personal level that it is necessary to give it.

In the coming days, surprise checks should be conducted at different places, the order said.

‘Punjab’s Gangster Culture’

Despite the fact that several ‘encounters’ have occurred in interior Punjab and Haryana in recent years, the gangster culture of UP and Bihar has always taken centre stage, particularly in Indian films, which have not dwelled too much on the happenings in these states.

Mann had warned against the glorification of violence in the media after Sidhu Moosewala’s death

Whether it’s the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, the Jaggu Bhagwapuria gang, the Shera Khuban gang, or the Sukha Kahlon gang, successive state governments have always promised the people action against them, but little appears to have happened on the ground, Sukant Deepak wrote in a report for IANS.

Amid allegations that many gangsters benefit from the patronage of several politicians, the police have found it increasingly difficult to rein in their activities, which include targeted killings, smuggling, extortion, and drug peddling.

Art Not Behind

The order has stated that songs that glorify weapons and violence should be completely banned. Mann had warned against the glorification of violence in the media after Sidhu Moosewala’s death as well, claiming that it had led to an increase in anti-social behaviour in the state. Mann stated that Punjabi artists and their work should contribute to the preservation of the state’s rich cultural heritage.

“It is our primary responsibility to persuade such singers not to encourage violence through their songs, which frequently pervert the youth, particularly children with impressionable minds,” Mann had stated.

Sidhu Moosewala's Posthumous Release SYL Deleted From YouTube in India
Nobody can deny the impact that artists like Sidhu have on today’s youth. (Instagram/@sidhumoosewala)

Nobody can deny the impact that artists like Sidhu have on today’s youth. Many young people could be seen outside his Mansa home at any given time, shaking hands with him and taking selfies with the singer who rose to cult status in his youth, the IANS report stated.

However, when it comes to creating art, the line between cultural representation and audience demand is always blurred. Sidhu’s own music appeared to borrow heavily from hip-hop and other styles. The music style, which is said to have originated in the United States, is frequently viewed as a “reaction to the socioeconomic conditions in Black and Brown neighbourhoods.”

Ami, who has worked on a range of films on social issues, said that while the success of films on mainstream topics could not be compared to the former, the money spent on these was ‘always recovered’. According to him, Punjab society is afflicted with problems like drugs, violence, casteism and patriarchy and “that filmmakers must feel socially responsible to address these issues.”

“The art must challenge social evils instead of endorsing them. If your movies celebrate all these issues, you may make a lot of money, but you will be failing as an artist,” Ami said in the report. “The question remains whether cinema being a commercial entity wants to humanise the society or not.”

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