New Delhi: More than a month after 16-year old Sam Stafford was felled by a stray bullet during an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest in Guwhati, the Delhi-NCR-based Assam People’s Welfare Association (APWA) has attempted to make a significant contribution towards providing some relief to his family.
The leading association of Assamese community in the Trans-Yamua areas in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh arranged a job in Guwahati for a member of Sam’s family at its Magh or Bhogali Bihu celebration recently.
“We generally celebrate Magh Bihu with lot of pomp and gaiety. But this year, we were concerned about the situation back home and saddened by the loss of lives. However, as we also have to keep our traditions alive, we decided to invite late Sam’s family to the event as he was the youngest person to have been killed during the protests,” Geetartha Darshan Baruah, president, Assam People’s Welfare Association (APWA), told EastMojo just before the start of the event.
The passage of the controversial bill on December 11 by Parliament led to protests turning violent in large parts of Assam and the Northeast. The morning after the bill became law, Sam participated at a gathering in Latasil playground called by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) that sought the legislation’s rollback. A budding muscian, Sam was keen on following in the footsteps of his drummer father, who plays in the city’s clubs. Therefore, the presence of popular singer Zubeen Garg at the protest also attracted Sam there. It was on his way back that the young boy was fatally struck by a bullet allegedly fired from a security personnel’s gun at some miscreants trying to foment trouble during curfew.
A total of five people were killed in the anti-CAA protests.
The APWA representatives handed over the offer letter for a job to Sam’s father, a very emotional Biju Stafford. If accepted, it will assure a monthly remuneration of Rs 25,000 to the family of the deceased. The association also organised an ex gratia payment for the family through voluntary contributions invited from its over 1,000-strong membership.
At the time of his death, Sam was also preparing for his 10th standard board exams. A total of five people were killed during the most violent phase of the protests in December.
“We hope that Assam’s future won’t be jeopardised due to recent violence as the state has seen lot of development in the recent past,” hoped Baruah. “We are asking our members to air their grievances. But that must not happen at the cost of their education or careers. Like, we had to convince some of our members who left to join the protests in Assam to return to Delhi,” he added.
The gathering remembered all those who had lost their lives during the agitation. Renowned Assamese singer Rupam Bhuyan and his group Northeast Breeze also performed a tribute concert at the event.