Sikh rapper wants to stay in New Zealand; says fears for life in India: Report

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Sikh rapper wants to stay in New Zealand; says fears for life in India: Report
Wellington: A Sikh rapper, who came to New Zealand nearly 10 years ago to study, has failed in his attempts to stay in the country after a tribunal on immigration declined his request in a recently released decision.

The rapper with 40,000 followers on TikTok claimed he fears of revenge upon his return to India after he posted songs about farmers’ protests and other social and religious issues in the country, The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.

He had applied to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal for protected refugee status earlier this year, where he also claimed that he had been receiving threatening messages after he insulted another Indian artist in one of his songs.

The tribunal struck down his appeal recently and upheld an earlier ruling from a refugee and protection officer who refused his application for protected status, The Herald reported last week.

The rapper, whose name was suppressed by the tribunal, wrote rap music in his spare time and uploaded them on TikTok in New Zealand.

But his account was banned after there were complaints about the lyrics, which focused on Punjab gun culture, poverty, caste and racism, the report said.

While his visa expired in 2018, it was in 2021 that he lodged a claim for protected status, and wrote in the form that he feared harm from politicians and other elements.

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Months after this, he uploaded a new song to another platform that made derogatory references to another artist who was not named by the tribunal, the newspaper reported.

He said after uploading this song he received threats and insults on his personal mobile number from fans of the other artist, with one received in January saying, “we’ll see you when you’re back in India”.

According to The Herald report, the rapper’s parents gave evidence before the tribunal from India where they received threatening phone calls, asking them to tell their son to take down the videos.

In its decision, the tribunal acknowledged that the rapper could not be expected to self-censor his views in his music.

It went on to say that unlike a famous rapper (Sidhu Moosewala), who was shot dead in May last year, the applicant doesn’t have any gang links and would not be exposed to the same level of danger.

Without naming Moosewala, the tribunal noted that the slain artist had millions of views on songs on YouTube, while the applicant’s songs had roughly 30,000 views each.The tribunal declined the rapper’s appeal for protected refugee status.

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