Jaskaran Sandhu: Shuvaloy Majumdar’s Anti-Sikh History Needs To Be Taken Seriously
"[N]ot reining in Majumdar will make it difficult for the Sikh Canadian community to trust the [Conservative Party of Canada]..."
September 13, 2023 | 4 min. read | Opinion
On July 24, 2023, Shuvaloy Majumdar, a former Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) staffer, policy advisor to Stephen Harper, and Foreign Policy Director at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) won the Conservative safe seat of Calgary Heritage in a federal by-election.
A worrisome result for Sikhs across Canada, regardless of partisan loyalties or political ideology, as Majumdar has a history of engaging in Anti-Sikh rhetoric and organizing.
As Trudeau and Modi feuded at the G20, with Trudeau expressing concerns about India’s foreign interference in Canada, a top actor of such activities according to Judy Thomas, Canada’s national security adviser, and Modi countering that hard truth with outright falsehoods and unproven claims of a Khalistan-Organized Crime-Drug Syndicates-Human Trafficking “nexus”, Majumdar chose to tweet out in support of India
“The countdown begins now on how long it takes for the Trudeau government, Liberal insiders, and the woke establishment to vilify the world’s largest democracy,” he said in regard to the tense interactions between the two leaders, saying nothing about how Canadians have been targeted by Indian interference for engaging in political free speech and other liberties and values we hold dear in this country.
For those who have been debating with Majumdar over the years, like myself, this type of rhetoric would not come as a surprise. Maligning Canadian Sikhs and ignoring India’s foreign interference, human rights records, rising autocracy, and crumbling democracy are not new.
What is surprising, however, is how Majumdar deleted and cleared out all of his old tweets, including those attacking Sikhs, starting his account afresh once he entered politics as a candidate.
We have some of the receipts, though.
Majumdar has always been an ardent Sikh genocide denier. He has consistently opposed any claim that what happened against Sikhs from 1984 onwards was a genocide, even though India itself has admitted in various ways to it being one on multiple occasions.
In his disturbing Anti-Sikh foreward with Ujjal Dosanjh to Terry Milewski’s much-derided report on Khalistan, published by the MLI, he mocked Sikhs for remembering and commemorating the lives lost during the Sikh Genocide. This is the same report which was dismantled in an open letter from over 50 Sikh scholars from leading academic institutions around the world and resulted in a public relations disaster for MLI.
He claimed any focus on genocide commemoration among Sikhs was an “orchestrated campaign” from those who provided a “drumbeat of victimization” for some nefarious ulterior motive.
I want to stop here, and let that sink in a little.
I have spent time with Sikh families that saw their loved ones doused in gasoline and set on fire by Indian government-sponsored mobs. I have talked to Sikh families that have had their children and parents extrajudicially murdered or disappeared by Indian state forces. I have worked on Sikh issues for over a decade now and Majumdar’s foreward in that MLI report was one of the most heartless and cruel things I have ever read.
When Bill 177, Sikh Genocide Awareness Week Act, 2020, was tabled in the Ontario Legislature by MPP Gurratan Singh, he came out strongly against it and suggested this would impact India-Canada trade, even though in 2017 the Ontario legislature had already recognized what happened to Sikhs during and after 1984 a genocide.
The threat to India-Canada trade is often used to silence Sikhs. A tactic used by the likes of Majumdar to cast aside legitimate grievances with the Indian state.
Before the World Sikh Organization launched #AskCanadianSikhs, an initiative to get mainstream media to actually speak to Sikhs when covering the community, Majumdar was often invited by major outlets, including CBC’s Power and Politics, to talk disparagingly about the community and the threat it was to India-Canada relations.
During his career, Majumdar has often been centre-stage in developing relations between India and Conservative leaders in Canada. His closeness to the ruling BJP party should be of significant concern to Canada as it continues to push back against foreign interference and the rise of the far-right Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) network in Canada. The RSS is the philosophical centre of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.
If polls are to be believed, the CPC should win the next federal election. What will Majumdar’s role be? Foreign Affairs seems to be the going consensus amongst the political chattering class.
Again, this a worrying outcome for Sikhs in Canada for obvious reasons considering the size of the diaspora in Canada and Indian demands to crack down on Sikhs here - regardless of the complete lack of evidence of any “nexus” the Indian government can conjure up in their imagination.
While the CPC leader, Pierre Poilievre, seems well-versed in the Khalsa and understands the Sikh's right to freedom of expression within Canada, it is unclear whether he understands how damaging his newest MP may be in building long-term bridges with the influential Sikh community.
To be clear, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have had a troubling history with the community as well. From signing a security-sharing framework with India to the Public Safety Terror Report fiasco, the current government has failed the community on various occasions.
However, not reining in Majumdar will make it difficult for the Sikh Canadian community to trust the CPC either, as he will likely enjoy a powerful role in the party moving forward.
Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Strategist at the public affairs and relations agency State Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as Executive Director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a Senior Advisor to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can find Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_
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