Sidhu Moosewal’s ‘SYL’ Music Video Removed: Why Is YouTube Removing Content?
Sidhu Moosewala’s song titled SYL – named after the under-construction Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal – was recorded just weeks before the singer’s murder and was released on 23 June.
Google-owned YouTube has removed the late Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewal’s new song from its platform in India, citing a “legal complaint from the government”. The song, SYL, is available in other countries on YouTube and is also available on audio streaming platforms like Spotify, Gaana, and JioSaavn in India.
Why did YouTube remove Sidhu Moosewal’s ‘SYL’ video?
The only reason YouTube gives is a legal complaint from the government. In a statement, a spokesperson for the video streaming platform said: “We have clear policies for takedown requests from governments around the world. We review government takedown requests if they are informed through proper legal procedures, and we also review content for violations of our Community Guidelines. And where appropriate, we will limit or remove the content in accordance with local laws and our terms and conditions after a thorough review. All these requests are tracked and included in our Transparency Report.” The platform did not specify the exact reason why the video was removed.
What is Sidhu Moosewala’s song about?
The title of the song, SYL, stands for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, which is at the heart of the 40-year-old water dispute between Punjab and Haryana. The music video, which has now been taken down, references the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and shows the Sikh flag hoisted at the Red Fort during the farmers’ agitation. The song also mentions Babbar Khalsa militant Balwinder Jattana, who shot dead two government officials in Chandigarh in 1990, bringing SYL’s work to a halt. He was later killed in a police encounter in 1991. Besides, the video has visuals of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the two convicts in the erstwhile CM Beant Singh assassination case – Balwant Singh Rajoan and Jagtar Singh Hawara. There are also pictures of Sikh militants Davinder Pal Bhullar, Gurdeep Singh Khaira, Lakhwinder Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara, and several others.
The YouTube video had 27 million views in less than three days. It also got 3.3 million likes on the video streaming platform. As of Tuesday, the song was at number 81 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
Why is YouTube removing videos from its platform?
YouTube uses various mechanisms to remove videos from its platform, including community reports and requests from government agencies, law enforcement agencies, court orders, etc. Government requests are made either through formal channels such as web forms, etc. or informal channels. such as Google’s public policy team. Some requests may allege infringement of intellectual property rights, while others may allege violations of local laws prohibiting types of content on grounds such as defamation.
According to the Google Transparency Report, there were 1,670 government requests to remove content from YouTube in 2021. This ranged across various categories such as defamation, government criticism, violence, religious offenses, national security, hate speech, copyright, privacy, and security, etc. In 2020, 1,538 such applications were filed.
Why did YouTube remove the song?
According to The Indian Express, the song was removed following a complaint by the Union government. As the title suggests, the song raises issues about the under-construction Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.
The river interlinking project has been a contentious issue between the Punjab and Haryana governments for the past four decades.
The song also brings up undivided Punjab, the 1984 riots, militancy in the state, Sikh prisoners, and the hoisting of the flag at the Red Fort during the farmers’ agitation.
SYL was released on the evening of June 23 and received almost three million views in less than three days. It also got 33 thousand likes on video sharing and social media platforms.
According to The Tribune, the song begins with Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member Shushila Gupta’s recent statement, “Now we have a government in Punjab. In 2024, AAP will form the government in Haryana as well. By 2025, water will reach every farm in Haryana. That’s not our promise, it’s our guarantee.”
The lyrics of the song challenge the statement and ask for sovereignty and an undivided Punjab.
The song also mentions members of the Babbar Khalsa, a terrorist organization designated by the Indian government, as well as other “Sikh Liberation” heroes, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Balwinder Jattan, Balwant Singh Rajoan, and Jagtar Singh Hawar.
Pictures of Sikh militants Davinder Pal Bhullar, Gurdeep Singh Khaira, Lakhwinder Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara, and many others are also shown.
According to The Tribune, SYL also includes a statement from Punjabi singer and actor Deep Sidhu, who died in a car accident earlier this year.
The end of the song highlights a NASA study on the water crisis in northern India and includes hashtags like #savepunjabwaters and #releasesikhprisoners.
He ends with the message: “Each of you is the last hope to protect the waters of Punjab so that the state does not turn into a desert.”