2 Indian states hold elections Modi’s party expected to win

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) shakes hands with Hindu right-wing party Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray (2R) as they attend a public rally in the run up to the Maharashtra state assembly elections, in Mumbai on October 18, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

2 Indian states hold elections Modi’s party expected to win

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to win the elections in Maharashtra in the west and Haryana in the north
  • Modi took to Twitter to urge voters to participate in large numbers and exercise their right to vote

NEW DELHI: Voters cast ballots Monday in two Indian states where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party is seeking a second consecutive term.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to win the elections in Maharashtra in the west and Haryana in the north after its dominant victory in national elections earlier this year.

Modi took to Twitter to urge voters to participate in large numbers and exercise their right to vote and “enrich the festival of democracy.”

The BJP’s high-voltage election campaigning aggressively raised the nationalism plank by focusing on the government’s scrapping of disputed Kashmir’s special status in early August and it targeted the opposition on national security and corruption.

In Maharashtra, where the BJP and Shiv Sena coalition is expected to retain power according to opinion polls, the BJP has pledged to work toward making the state drought-free.

Opinion surveys predicted a BJP romp in Harayana too, where its main opposition, the Congress party, could face a near decimation. Congress, however, is hoping to recover from its national election rout last spring and make a comeback in the state.

The traffic in Haryana was scanty as most people remained indoors. Voters said they were voting for issues related “employment.”

“We want someone who is educated to rule our state and fix our problems,” said Mohamad Sajid, a voter in Mewat district.

The opposition tried to corner the BJP governments in the two states on the handling of the economy, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blaming the ruling party for an economic slowdown and unemployment. But the opposition campaigns were lackluster due to infighting and desertions in the run-up to the vote.

The Congress party is going through a tough phase after it won only 52 of 542 parliamentary seats in the nationwide polls this year, compared to 303 won by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Votes in Haryana and Maharashtra will be counted on Oct. 24.


On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

Updated 15 November 2019

On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

SANTA CLARITA, California: A Southern California high school student pulled a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun from his backpack and fired on fellow classmates on Thursday morning, killing two and wounding three others.
He saved the last bullet for himself. It was his 16th birthday.
The teenaged gunman, whose name was not provided by police, survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but was in grave condition in hospital, law enforcement officials said.
Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters the entire incident, captured on videotape, took 16 seconds as the young man stood in one spot and fired on one student after another.
“From right where he was standing, he doesn’t chase anybody, he fires from where he is until he shoots himself,” Wegener said.
The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at US schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
Wegener confirmed the suspect posted a message on his Instagram account before the shooting that said: “Saugus have fun at school tomorrow.” The post was later taken down.
The two slain students were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. Two other girls, aged 14 and 15, were wounded, as was a 14-year old boy, Wegener said.

Students are evacuated from Saugus High School onto a school bus after a shooting at the school left two students dead and three wounded on Nove. 14, 2019 in Santa Clarita, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)


Motive unknown
Investigators said they did not yet know what led the student to open fire at the school 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles.
Police said the accused shooter had acted alone. Investigators descended on his family home, blocking off the street. They found no further danger there.
A next-door neighbor, registered nurse Jared Axen, said the suspect had seemed introverted, quiet and sad, possibly despondent over the loss of his father from a heart attack in December 2017.
Axen, 33, said it was the boy who found his father deceased, not long after the older man had regained his sobriety and gotten his life “back on track” after years of struggling with alcohol abuse.
“I would say he (the boy) was hurting and couldn’t ask for help,” Axen said of the suspect, who was a track athlete at the school, involved in Boy Scouts and liked the outdoors, going on hunting trips with his father.
He was of mixed race, born to Japanese-born mother and white father, with an older sister who became a nurse and moved away.
“I would ask him how school was ... he would never bring up concerns of bullying or being a loaner there,” Axen said.
There was no immediate word on where the teen gunman obtained the weapon.
“How do we come out of tragedy? We need to say ‘No more!’ This is a tragic event. It happens too frequently,” said Captain Robert Lewis of Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station, striking an emotional note in an otherwise somber news conference.


Latest school shooting
A 16-year-old Saugus High School junior named Pamela, who spoke to Reuters on condition that she not give her last name, said she was in her first-period choir class when some girls ran into the room and said there was a shooting going on.
“Our teacher immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and got us into her office and locked the door,” Pamela said, adding that one of the girls had been shot in the shoulder.
Taylor Hardges reported seeing people running in the hallways shouting “Run!” She raced into a classroom, where a teacher barricaded the room.
“We’ve had drills. It doesn’t prepare you for the real thing,” she said after reuniting with her father at a designated spot in Santa Clarita’s Central Park.
Her father, Terrence Hardges, said he felt his heart race after Taylor texted him from inside the classroom with the message: “I love you. I’m pinned in a room. We’re locked in.”
The shooting at Saugus was the 85th incidence of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. It seems sure to reignite a debate over gun control in the 2020 presidential election.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, where two teenagers went on a rampage, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.