Gurpreet Singh: New Westminster becomes first Canadian municipality to denounce India’s Islamophobic CAA

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      A British Columbian city passed a motion on Monday (July 13) asking the Canadian government to "take a position in opposition" to the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) adopted by the Indian government. 

      Moved by a well-known human-rights defender and city councillor Chuck Puchmayr on March 9, the motion was approved more than four months later in a 5-1 vote, with one city councillor absent. 

      Mayor Jonathan Cote was among those voting for the motion, which declares that New Westminster "prides itself on providing a safe and inclusive community for all citizens and residents including the diverse cultures and religions from around the world".

      The CAA blatantly discriminates against Muslim refugees coming to India from neighbouring countries and only allows non-Muslim refugees to make India their home.

      The law was passed at the behest of right-wing Hindu nationalist government under which attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown over the last several years. So much so that Indian police continue to hound CAA opponents. 

      The law violates Indian constitution, which guarantees religious equality, and sparked angry protests all across the country. Demonstrations have been held in Canada as well, with Puchmayr attending one rally in Surrey days before the motion was tabled. 

      The voting was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions and public health emergency in the province.

      To date, the Canadian government has failed to take a strong position against the CAA. 

      The New Westminster motion is a huge setback for pro-India lobby groups, which have been trying to prevent it from being approved.