Bhawra, who is facing questions about reducing Sidhu's security detail last week, said the rapper was not travelling with his bodyguards and even left his bullet-proof vehicle at home.

Moose Wala, 28, earned a particularly large following among young Punjabi men with his catchy rap videos that attacked rival singers and politicians, and portrayed him as a man who fought for the community's pride, delivered justice and gunned down his rivals.

The rapper unsuccessfully contested state elections as a candidate for India's main opposition Congress party earlier this year.

The political bid attracted additional scrutiny and criticism of Sidhu's work with rivals accusing him of glorifying guns, Sikh nationalism and gang culture.

His biggest hits, such as "Legend", "Old Skool", "Devil" and "Just Listen", are among the most popular tunes on different short-video platforms in India.

Canadian rapper Drake posted a picture of Sidhu with his mother on Instagram, and joined Indian stars in expressing shock at the killing.

"Stunned by the shocking death of #SidhuMoosewala. Still trying to wrap my head around this one," actor Ajay Devgn tweeted.

Vishal Dadlani, a Bollywood musician, posted: "I only knew #SidhuMoosewala through his music, yet the news of his demise has cut deep".

"India has very few authentic modern artists. He was right on top of that list," Dadlani added.

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday announced a judicial commission and promised that the "perpetrators of the heinous crime will be behind the bars soon".

Moose Wala's last song "The Last Ride", which was released earlier this month, included the lyrics "the glow on the man's face tells you that he'll die young".

Punjab is a major transit route for drugs entering India from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the issue has become a hot-button political issue in the last few years.

Many observers link the narcotics trade -- mostly heroin and opium -- to an uptick in gang-related violence and the use of illegal arms in the state.

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