GUWAHATI, Dec 11 - �On that fateful evening I survived only because luck was on my side. I was in the middle of the road when security personnel opened fire. It was completely dark and the situation was beyond imagination. When the firing stopped, I looked back and saw Sam Stafford lying on the road. He was bleeding profusely,� a resident of Hatigaon area said recalling the evening of December 12, 2019.
Requesting anonymity, the person said that as per rule security personnel are supposed to issue a warning before opening fire to control a mob. But that evening, the firing took place without any warning.
�The protest rally was taken out from Friends Path, Hatigaon. Around 100 people, including women and senior citizens, took part in the rally. It was a completely peaceful protest and no one vandalised any public property or attacked anyone. We planned to take the rally up to Rajdhani Masjid. When we reached the vicinity of the Hatigaon Namghar, it was completely dark and all streetlights went off. Suddenly an ambulance crossed us and a few seconds later the firing started. Initially, we were clueless about from where the firing was coming because we had neither seen any police vehicle nor heard the siren of any vehicle,� the person said.
According to the witness, during that incident security personnel fired around ten rounds of bullets randomly from a distance and innumerable persons received injuries while trying to escape.
�When I along with some other people was busy with the injured Sam Stafford, we saw a convoy of security personnel, including a white Xylo, a Scorpio and three-four other vehicles crossing the area. No security personnel was there to help us,� the eyewitness said.
According to the person, in the early part of the day, he also took part in protests in Latasil, Ganeshguri and Dispur areas, but there was no firing.
�In the daytime, police and other security personnel used to issue a warning first and then start lathicharge or use water cannons, rubber bullets or tear gas. In an extreme situation, they opened blank fire. But by evening the entire situation took an unexpected turn. For us, firing without any warning was totally unexpected,� he recalled.
He also lamented that Sam Stafford who died in the firing, was innocent; he neither damaged any public property nor attacked anyone during the protest.
�Like others, Sam also joined us and shouted slogans against the CAA. He was very excited and was in the forefront during the rally. Now his family is suffering a lot. It is very pathetic. On the other hand, the issue of CAA still remains unresolved. We don�t want a single Bangladeshi in Assam because infiltration is posing a serious threat to our future generations,� he added.