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UN resolution on ‘war crimes’ adopted, India votes
against Sri Lanka

GENEVA: The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Thursday urging Sri Lanka to "credibly investigate" allegations of violations during the war against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.

The US-led resolution was adopted with 24 votes in favour, 15 against and eight abstentions.

India voted against Sri Lanka on the resolution after pressure from political parties like the DMK and AIADMK on the issue.

China, however, firmly backed Sri Lanka against the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC on alleged war crimes, saying it is against any country putting pressure on others in the name of rights violations.

Tabling the resolution, the United States said Colombo had been given three years to hold its own investigations into allegations of serious violations, but "given the lack of action... it is appropriate" that the 47-member state council pushed it to do so.

"An enduring peace will be unsustainable without meaningful steps to foster national reconciliation and accountability," said US envoy Eileen Donahoe.

"It is a resolution that encourages Sri Lanka to ... make concerted efforts at achieving the kind of meaningful accountability upon which lasting reconciliation efforts can be built."

Unlike in the immediate aftermath of the conflict when it staved off a similar resolution at the Human Rights Council, Colombo was unable this time to lobby sufficient support to defeat the Western-led move. — AFPBack




Coal mining: CAG report slams govt 

New Delhi: The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) in its draft report on coal mining in the country has accused the government of having given “undue benefits" to a number of companies leading to a loss of Rs 10.67 lakh crore to the national exchequer.

The CAG report says that the government incurred the loss as coal blocks were not auctioned between 2004 and 2009, a news paper reported on Thursday. 
The CAG draft report titled 'Performance Audit of Coal Block Allocations' said that the beneficiaries include some 100 private companies, as well as some Public Sector Units (power, steel and cement).

Of the estimated loss of Rs 10.67 lakh crore, private firms cornered more than Rs 4.79 lakh crore while around Rs 5.88 lakh crore went to the PSUs, the paper said.
Among the major private sector beneficiaries are, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, Tata Group entities, the Anil Agarwal Group firms, Aditya Birla Group companies, Essar Group's power ventures, Adani Group, Arcelor Mittal India, Lanco Group, Jayaswal Neco, Electro Steel Castings Ltd, Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd and Abhijeet Group.




US visa norms relaxed for Indian students, tourists

NEW DELHI: Indians renewing visas to the US within four years will be exempted from a personal interview. Announcing this here on Wednesday, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs Janice Jacobs said the new rules would apply to visa categories B1, B2, C and D. Jacobs, who is here for the US-India consular dialogue, is likely to face New Delhi's concern about the growing rate of rejection of Indian work visas by the US.

"This new programme will permit consular officers to waive interviews for some qualified applicants who are renewing their visa within 48 months or four years, of expiration of their previous visa and within the same classification as the previous visa," Jacobs said. She clarified that these new rules would apply "for tourists, business travelers, crew members and for students."

"Beginning today, our consulates in India are introducing a new programme to streamline the visa renewal process. Over time, this programme has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of visa applicants here in India," she said.




K'taka CM meets Gadkari

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) quandary over the chief ministership issue in Karnataka appeared far from over on Thursday even as the contenders - incumbent Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and his predecessor BS Yeddyurappa are camping in the national capital to seek support for their respective candidatures. 

Yeddyurappa was the first to arrive in Delhi, yesterday evening, to meet the top leadership of the party amid indications that he may be reinstated as chief minister soon. 

However, the plot thickened after Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda too landed in Delhi yesterday night. 

Gowda has been battling for survival after over 60 party MLAs backed Yeddyurappa’s return as CM. He had appeared strong as the party leadership and the RSS were standing by his side as he took on the rebellion.




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