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People light candles for Sam in Guwahati; AASU leader meets family

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

From Hatigaon to Namghar here, locals lit up streets with candles and earthen lamps on Saturday evening in the memory of 17-year-old Sam Stafford, who died in an alleged firing incident in the city two days ago.

Sam was injured in the incident which took place at Namghar street intersection on Thursday. He later succumbed to bullet injuries at a hospital.

A drummer, he was returning from Latasil playground, where noted singer Zubeen Garg performed in solidarity with protesters against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The teen's family members, friends and All Assam Students' Union (AASU) activists gathered at the intersection this evening to remember him.

On one side of the bridge, candles and incense sticks were lit before portraits of Sam clipped to a 'gamocha' -- a traditional Assamese scarf.

Sam, who had formed a band with his friends and performed at functions, was remembered as the "neighbourhood's budding musician".

Shamsher Alam (32) came with his wife Najneen Sultana (30) and their daughters Fathima (14) and Jasmin (3) to light candles on the river bridge.

"We Assamese people are already in pain over the Citizenship Act issue and amid all that a nice family lost its young member, who was also a talented drummer. We share the pain of the Stafford family," Alam told PTI.

The bridge dazzled with hundreds of candles and earthen lamps lit by the locals.

Earlier in the day, AASU's chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya visited the Staffords and consoled them.

"My son was a talented drummer and had gone to Latasil playground to listen to Zubeen as he was a big fan. He was returning home and was walking beside a group of anti-CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) protesters when the firing incident happened. A bullet hit him," Sam's 45-year-old father Biju Stafford told PTI, recalling the night when he lost his son.

Sam was rushed to a hospital in Hatigaon by a few good samaritans and from there he was sent to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, where he died, his mother Mamoni Stafford (38) said.

On Friday, a sea of mourners had gathered at the Stafford's residence to bid farewell to the young boy. A 'gamocha' was placed around his neck as his body lay in the coffin.

Sam's idol Zubeen Garg and a few stars from the Assamese film industry were among those who visited the bereaved family. His fellow musicians and schoolmates also came.

Later, Assam Police personnel escorted a makeshift hearse van carrying Sam's coffin to the Christian Basti graveyard in Dispur.

As the hearse left home, a friend held out Sam's portrait and cried "Joi Aai Asom" (hail Assam). A large number of neighbours had gathered on their rooftops and balconies, with some capturing the moment on their mobile phones.

"Along the way at Namgarh, people lit candles in memory of my son," Biju said.

Two buses full of grieving family members and friends were also escorted to the cemetery, where scores of people from the neighbouring areas had also gathered to attend the rituals.

At the graveyard, it was a multi-faith gathering and some local artistes and AASU activists were also present.

Two people held out 'gamochas' in the air bearing slogans. One was carried by a Hatigaon resident which read, "No CAA". The other was held by a Christian Basti local which read, "Shaheed Pranam Tomak. Martyr! We salute you".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, December 14 2019. 23:55 IST
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