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 is going to make a similar move next week.
On Sunday evening, Chuck Puchmayr, who is vocal on social justice and human rights, told a rally held against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and recent violence that claimed more than 40 lives in New Delhi said that he was determined to bring the motion on the night of Monday, March 9.
Organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India, the rally was attended by scores of people who came out to register their protest despite rain and cold weather at Holland Park in Surrey.
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.
There have been angry protests against CAA all over the world. The recent demonstrations by BJP supporters against peaceful protesters in Delhi culminated into bloodshed that left more than 40 people dead. Most of these deaths were the result of mob attacks incited by BJP supporters with the help of police.
The rally began with a moment of silence for those who were killed.
Puchmayr was the only elected official present, while South Asian MPs from Surrey remained absent. He announced that he will be bringing a motion to denounce CAA and urge the Canadian government to intervene and break its silence over what is happening in India.
Jagmeet Singh of New Democratic Party (NDP) is the only federal leader who has spoken out against CAA and Delhi violence so far. Annie Ohana, an anti-racism educator and former NDP candidate also spoke at the rally.
The Sikh activists were the largest number at the gathering. Many of them strongly believe that the Delhi violence is the repetition of the 1984 pogrom during which state sponsored goons targeted thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of India, following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. This time however, those targeted were mainly from the Muslim community.
The speakers included Hardeep Singh Nijjar from Guru Nanak Sikh temple, Gian Singh Gill from Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara and Ranjit Singh Khalsa from Banda Singh Bahadur Society, besides Muslim activists Auzeb Manzoor, Dawood Ismail, Imtiaz Popat and Tarek Kyani.
IAPI members and supporters Rakesh Kumar, Amrit Diwana, Sayyad Wajahat and Harbir Rathi also spoke at the event.