Following in the footsteps of Seattle City council, which unanimously passed a motion against the discriminatory citizenship law adopted by India, a councillor in New Westminster made a similar move on Monday, March 9.
Chuck Puchmayr, who is vocal on social justice and human rights, tabled a motion calling for the scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) amidst a tense atmosphere inside the council chamber. The motion also urges the Canadian government to intervene.
The right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India recently passed CAA, which discriminates against Muslim refugees coming from neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, on the pretext of giving shelter to non-Muslims facing religious persecution in those places.
This stirred angry protests in India and Canada. More than 50 people have died in New Delhi alone during violence. Most of those dead were Muslims who were systematically targeted by BJP supporters with the active help of the police.
The motion clearly says that the city of New Westminster, which is one of the most multicultural cities in North America “raises concerns with the Government of India’s December 11, 2019 passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act which clearly discriminates against Muslims and has sparked fatal attacks on Muslims inside India.”
The motion is yet to be passed and is scheduled for debate on March 30.
Both supporters and opponents of the CAA were present inside the council chamber, and there were heated exchanges between the two sides outside before the meeting started. The opponents of CAA outnumbered the people on the opposite side and had lined up more speakers. A significant number of Muslims came out to show their support for the motion.
Puchmayr faced lot of pushback from pro BJP activists. However, he ended up moving the motion, which needs a majority vote to pass.
In the meantime, a move to bring another anti-CAA motion in Vancouver city council has fizzled out. Brought by Councillor Jean Swanson, it received backlash from the pro-India lobby. In the absence of any potential support from within the council she has now withdrawn it.
Gurpreet Singh is a journalist