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India Worried About Reports Of ISIS Acquiring Chemical Weapons: Officials

Iraqi soldiers pose with the Islamic State flag along a street of the town of al-Shura, which was recaptured from Islamic State (IS), south of Mosul, Iraq October 30, 2016. To match Special Report MIDEAST-CRISIS/IRAQ-INFORMER REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo
THE HAGUE July 12: India is “deeply worried” about reports of the so-called ‘ISIS’ acquiring chemical weapons and has asked the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW to closely monitor this threat.
“India shares the wide-spread concern over fresh allegations on the use of chemical weapons coming from different parts of the world,” Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to OPCW, Venu Rajamony, said, addressing the 88th session of the Executive Council of the Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague yesterday.
He said, “We are saddened to learn about the tragic loss of life of a UK citizen in Amesbury following the exposure to a toxic chemical. We express our deepest sympathies to all victims of chemical weapon attacks and their families.”
Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old British woman, died on July 8, days after being exposed to a “high dose” of a deadly nerve agent in Amesbury, near the town of Salisbury in south west England where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with the same chemical four months ago.
Venu Rajamony said it has been India’s consistent position that the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances, cannot be justified and the perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable.
The use of chemical weapons is in complete disregard of humanity and is reprehensible and contrary to the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as accepted international legal norms, he said.
“India is deeply worried about reports of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ or ISIS/ISIL acquiring chemical weapons and their delivery systems and requests the Technical Secretariat to closely monitor this threat and report to the Executive Council on this emerging challenge,” Mr Rajamony was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Indian Embassy today.
He said any allegations of use of chemical weapons should be addressed in an effective and timely manner and strictly in accordance with the provisions of the convention.
“All investigations in this regard should be impartial and objective and must strive to establish facts and reach evidence-based conclusions,” Mr Rajamony said.
India urges that all provisions of the convention be utilised to address concerns in accordance with the procedures laid down in the convention, he said.
Ambassador Rajamony said as one of the original signatories of the convention and an active member of the OPCW, India has always emphasised the importance of consensus and the need for all decisions to be taken by the states parties in consultation with each other.
 “It is the responsibility of all states parties to preserve and protect the integrity and credibility of the convention. Effective solutions to the challenges faced by the OPCW can be found through constructive engagement and dialogue,” he said.
Mr Rajamony said India remains willing and open for discussions with states parties to find ways and means to strengthen the convention and its effective implementation, within the framework of the convention.
“Our efforts in the OPCW should help to eliminate all possibilities of any future use of chemical weapons and uphold the global norm against use of chemical weapons,” he added.

Bank Tries To Seize Kerala Woman’s Home, Faces Protest, Suicide Threats

KOCHI July 10: Tension prevailed at Edappally in Kochi today following a protest against the move of a private bank to attach the property of a woman who had stood surety for a loan of Rs. 2 lakh taken by her friend two decades ago, police said.
The people, assembled on the premises of Preetha Shaji’s residence in support of her fight against the move, threatened to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire if the bank attaches her house and land worth around Rs. 2.5 crore, police said.
Some of them allegedly poured petrol on themselves but they were stopped from setting themselves afire by the firemen and the police.
Preetha had helped her friend get the loan and alleged that the bank did not yield though she offered to pay Rs. 50 lakh to the bank for the default, they added.
She said she has no other place to go if the bank decides to implement the court order to confiscate her property, the police said.
Alleging the role of the land mafia in the case, she said she would not leave the house.
State Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac said the government was with the woman in the case.
“The property should not be confiscated. The bank should discuss the matter with the government,” Mr Issac said.
Thrikkakara MLA P T Thomas described as “inhuman” the move by the bank and said the protest has forced the bank to temporarily stop the confiscation.
He said the protest by the people would continue till the woman gets justice.