Controversial Map Sparks Backlash in India-Canada Music Tour

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The India tour of Canadian-Sikh singer Shubhneet Singh has been canceled due to a backlash over an Instagram story featuring a distorted map of India. The artist behind the map, Amandeep Singh, also known as “Inkquisitive,” has come forward in defense of the singer and claimed to be a victim of “cyberbullying.”

Inkquisitive explained that his artwork titled “Panjab” was intended to highlight the blackout situation in Punjab, where a policeman was depicted turning off the region’s switch. He insisted that he did not mean to offend anyone, but parts of the northern side of the map appeared faded or missing unintentionally. He explained that the darkened area represented the blackout.

The artist acknowledged that residents of the areas shown as faded on the map might have felt neglected and mentioned that he had previously apologized for this unintentional effect.

Inkquisitive blamed actress Kangana Ranaut for promoting the Khalistani narrative regarding the distorted map and singer Shubh for sharing it. He also accused the “powerheads” of the Indian industry for the backlash he and Shubh received, suggesting that influential individuals misinterpreted his artwork as a deliberate “beheading of India” and a part of the “Khalistan movement.”

The artist claimed that he faced continuous abuse, harassment, and death threats since the controversy began, which ultimately led to the cancellation of Shubh’s India tour.

Despite the backlash, Amandeep Singh stood by his contentious artwork, expressing shock that he was being called out for spreading hate propaganda after 13 years as an artist.

He also criticized the Indian media for not mentioning his name or the original caption of his social media post when reporting on the artwork. He accused the media of supporting “cancel culture” and the alleged “new narrative” surrounding the “Panjab” artwork.

Notably, in a later tweet, Inkquisitive shared the same artwork with outlines of Jammu and Kashmir and other regions that were missing in the original piece.

The controversy arose when rapper/musician Shubhneet Singh, known as Shubh, posted a story on his Instagram on March 23, 2023, captioned “Pray for Punjab,” featuring the distorted map of India. The map excluded the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and several northeastern states. Shubh posted this during a time when the Punjab Police was searching for Khalistani terrorist Amritpal Singh, and he had openly supported Khalistani elements.

This incident received widespread condemnation from Indians, both domestically and abroad. BJYM Mumbai President Tajinder Singh Tiwana filed a complaint with the police against Shubh for distorting the map of India. Cricketers Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya also unfollowed Shubh on Instagram. Several brands, including BoAt, withdrew sponsorship from his concerts, and the Moj app removed Shubh’s songs from its platform.

Following the Instagram controversy, Shubhneet Singh’s music tour in India faced significant setbacks. The backlash was not limited to social media but also extended to brands and fellow celebrities, highlighting the consequences of such actions in the digital age.

Indian authorities and citizens took offense to the distorted map, which was perceived as an affront to the country’s territorial integrity. The omission of regions from the map and Shubh’s previous support for Khalistani elements raised concerns about his intentions and affiliations.

The cancellation of the music tour was a significant blow to Shubhneet Singh’s career, as it not only resulted in financial losses but also tarnished his image in India. The withdrawal of sponsorship by brands underscored the potential impact of social media controversies on a public figure’s endorsements and collaborations.

The episode also shed light on the power and influence of social media in shaping public opinion and holding individuals accountable for their actions. The swift and widespread condemnation on various digital platforms demonstrated the ability of the online community to mobilize and express their disapproval.

Inkquisitive’s response to the controversy added another layer to the unfolding drama. While he defended his artwork and expressed his dismay at being labeled a promoter of hate propaganda, his statement generated mixed reactions. Some saw it as an attempt to deflect responsibility, while others sympathized with his perspective on the artwork’s original intent.

The incident serves as a reminder of the complex interplay between art, freedom of expression, and public perception. While artists have the right to convey their messages through their work, they also bear the responsibility of considering the potential impact and interpretation of their creations, especially in sensitive contexts.

As social media continues to be a platform for artists and influencers to share their views and art with a global audience, instances like this underscore the importance of exercising caution and sensitivity when addressing politically charged subjects.

Ultimately, the controversy surrounding Shubhneet Singh’s Instagram post serves as a cautionary tale about the potential consequences of artistic expression in the digital age, where actions and statements can quickly go viral and impact one’s personal and professional life. It highlights the need for individuals, especially public figures, to navigate the delicate balance between creativity and responsibility in an increasingly connected world.

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