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India slams US panel for comments on religious minorities

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VIkas swrop

 

New Delhi: India on Thursday slammed the US’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee and said it’s raising the issue of alleged “violence” against religious minorities in the country was based on “lack of understanding of India”.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, in a statement said that the government had seen media reports about a briefing by the committee on “Violence against Religious Minorities in India”.

“We regard such efforts as based on a lack of understanding of India, its constitution and society,” he said.

“It is well known that the constitution of India guarantees equal religious, social and political rights to all its citizens, including minorities,” he added further.

At a Congressional hearing organized jointly by the commission and the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, literature containing testimonies of experts and details of speeches distributed to members spoke of violence against religious minorities, with a map of India which showed Pakistan occupied  Kashmir as part of Pakistan.

At the hearing, Congressman Patrick Meehan, co-chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, alleged that “violence” against religious minorities has increased in India in recent months, calling it an issue of serious concern.

Meehan and the invited experts praised President Barack Obama for raising the issue of religious and human rights in India during his trip to the country early this year.

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PM Narendra Modi to attend UN Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka

It has been confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the UN Vesak Day celebrations to mark the birth of Buddha in Sri Lanka in May

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Narendra Modi, Wikimedia

Colombo, Feb 18, 2017: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has confirmed his participation in the UN Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka in May, a Sri Lankan minister was quoted as saying.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has confirmed his participation in UN Vesak Day celebrations which will be conducted in Sri Lanka this year,” Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said, the Colombo Page reported.

“We are going to celebrate the thrice blessed day on a grand scale,” Rajapakshe added.

The UN Vesak Day will be observed in Sri Lanka to mark the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha who founded Buddhism.

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This is the first time Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity to host this festival.

Many world leaders have been invited to the first ever United Nations’ Vesak Day celebrations to be held in in Sri Lanka on May 12 this year.

Over thousand representatives from India, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia and other countries where Buddhism is practiced are expected to participate in the event.

Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is paying a visit to Sri Lanka from February 18 to 20, during which a wide range of bilateral issues will be discussed.

“The visit will continue the tradition of close exchanges with Sri Lanka that has gained momentum in the last two years,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a briefing in New Delhi earlier.

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“He will interact with the Sri Lankan leadership for discussions on possibilities of collaboration and cooperation in a number of sectors, including power, highways, airport, hydrocarbon sector, etc,” he said.

“The visit would help in taking stock on various decisions taken during the meetings between the two leaderships,” he said.

The Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit comes as a team from the Export-Import Bank of India was in Sri Lanka to monitor the progress of projects under India’s Lines of Credit (LoC) scheme, particularly in the railway sector.

The team visited sites of the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project, including Kankesanthurai Railway Line, Omanthai-Pallai railway line, etc., apart from evaluating the signalling and telecommunication systems installed under the LoC, the Indian High Commission said in a statement.

The Line of Credit (LOC) is a financing mechanism through which India’s Exim (Export-Import) Bank extends support for export of goods and services from India. Between 2008-15 Exim Bank has disbursed $11,678 million as LOCs for various development related and capacity building projects across continents.

India has provided concessionary credit facilities amounting to about $800 million to Sri Lanka to undertake the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project. Engineering and construction company IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signalling and communication infrastructure.

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The Exim Bank team also called on Sri Lanka Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and senior officials in several Sri Lankan ministries of such as Railways, Department of External Resources, Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, etc.

The Indian High Commission said it remains committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka through closer economic ties, enhancing connectivity and continued development partnership. IANS

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150 Indian Dead Bodies lying in the Country, says Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia

Indian Government is keen to prove the pro--active nature of Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia by denying Indian corpses debate

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Vikas Swarup, Twitter

New Delhi, Dec 23, 2016: The Ministry of External Affairs denied the accusation that the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has been inactive in dispatching 150 dead bodies from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana that are lying in mortuaries.

It was also stated that the embassy is actively pursuing the cases on top. Terming the figures “misleading and completely false,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said there are only 10 cases belonging to the same. He added that the hold-up in bringing back the mortal remains of these people to India was because of procedural delays.

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“It is factually misleading and completely false that report refers to 150 bodies from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh lying in the mortuaries in Saudi Arabia. In reality, there are only about 10 cases that pertain to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the total number of bodies is nowhere near the figure just mentioned. Moreover, the report fails to appreciate the context of diaspora community in Saudi Arabia,” Swarup stated to ANI.

He also noted that there are over two million Indians who are staying and working in the country out of which three to four death cases are written down daily due to natural causes.

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Swarup mentioned most cases are “clear cases” as per local norms and it takes around three weeks to send mortal remains even if the documents are in order.

“In cases of unnatural death, suicide, murder and also in those cases where the families doubt the circumstances of death, the investigation procedure is very lengthy causing delay in completion of documentation and transportation of mortal remains. In some cases the families demand release of compensation first before the dispatch of mortal remains whereas compensation is a legal process and it takes years in other cases,” Swarup added.

Earlier, media reports had said that families of at least 150 people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been waiting for the mortal remains for more than a year. The inactivity of the Indian Embassy was mostly blamed for this condition.

However, with an official statement like this, it seems like the MEA authorities are taking these allegations seriously and trying to clear all accusations as Swarup mentioned how the Embassy issues no objection certificates on a 24*7 basis, mentioned ANI.

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Reportedly, four letters are needed to be submitted to Indian embassy in Riyadh to let the bodies return to the country. These four letters include medical and police reports, a consent letter from the family and a declaration that no monetary assistance would be demanded either from Saudi government or the employer. Saudi Arabia has a sponsorship system named Khafila system whereby a sponsor is responsible to complete paper work and dispatch mortal remains.

However, Swarup said, the Indian Embassy can only intervene whenever there are delays in transportation of mortal remains.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

 

 

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India Supports World Bank Decision on Indus Treaty, says it is fully conscious of its International Obligations

It was “legally untenable” according to India

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Indus Basin, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Dec 13, 2016: World Bank’s decision to temporarily bring an end to the two simultaneous processes of looking into Indo-Pak dispute over Kishenganga and Ratle project confirms that pursuing the two concurrent processes could have rendered the Indus Water Treaty unworkable over time.

Vikas Swarup, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said India remains fully conscious of its international obligations and is ready to engage in further consultations on the matter of resolving current differences regarding these two projects, mentioned PTI.

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“The government had pointed out on 10 November, 2016 the legal untenability of the World Bank launching two simultaneous processes– for appointment of a Neutral Expert as requested by India and establishment of a Court of Arbitration requested by Pakistan- to adjudicate technical differences between India and Pakistan on Kishenganga and Ralte projects”.

Swarup mentions “by temporarily halting both the processes now, the Bank has confirmed that pursuing the two concurrent processes can render the Treaty unworkable over time.”

India questioned the legality surrounding the simultaneous ongoing of the two separate mechanisms. It was an “inexplicable” decision. It was “legally untenable” according to India. This prompted The World Bank to halt the process, nearly after a month of objection.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon