Brutish Colombian city passed a motion on Monday, July 13 against the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) adopted by the Indian government.

Moved on March 9 by City Councillor Chuck Puchmyar, a well known human rights defender, the motion was finally passed with 5-1 votes in favour, with one city councillor absent.

The Mayor Jonathan Cote voted in favour of the motion to condemn the CAA that blatantly discriminates against Muslim refugees coming to India from neighbouring countries, and only allows non-Muslims to make India home. The law was passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist government, under which attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown over the last several years. So much so, the Indian police continue to hound CAA opponents.

The law violates India’s constitution which guarantees religious equality, sparking angry protests all across the country. A series of demonstrations were also held in Canada. Puchmyar attended one rally in Surrey days before the motion was tabled.

After the voting was delayed because of COVID 19 restrictions and the public health emergency in the province, New Westminster became the first Canadian City to officially condemn CAA. The Canadian government has so far failed to take a strong position against it. Significantly, the New Westminster motion asks the federal government to intervene.

The development is a huge setback for pro-India lobby groups who have been opposing the motion. The City of New Westminster was under tremendous pressure after the motion was tabled by Puchmyar, amidst tensions between those who supported it and those on the opposite side.

Gurpreet Singh is a journalist


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