Keenan-Reuben murder: 4 convicted, get life in jail
Judge says they were not spur- of- the- moment killings
MUMBAI: Nearly five years after two young men in Mumbai were murdered for trying to protect t heir women f riends f rom molesters, the four assailants were on Thursday sentenced to life in jail.
The four were convicted of stabbing Keenan Santos, 24, and Reuben Fernandez, 29, outside an eatery in the Mumbai suburb of Amboli on October 20, 2011, with the judge saying it was not “a spur of the moment incident”. While Santos died the same night, Fernandez died on October 31, 2011.
They were standing outside the eatery with friends when the four accused — Jitendra Rana, Satish Dulgaj, Sunil Bhot and Deepak Tival — allegedly molested two women in group.
Referring to an eyewitness’s statement, t he court said, “Nobody can scream only on passing a comment. They [eyewitnesses] boldly disclosed how the accused touched [the women] inappropriately. The immediate action of Keenan after hearing the incident is natural. Touching the specific body parts and passing comments like ‘isko raat ke liye uthake lejayenge’ [we will pick her up for tonight] proves the accused were in preparation of grave and heinous offence.”
Santos and Fernandez got into an altercation with the four, who then left the spot threatening retribution. The four, who lived in a slum nearby, returned a short while later with knives and stabbed Santos and Fernandez.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam sought life imprisonment till death for the convicts, so it could send out a strong message that “one cannot get away with molestation, and not at all with murder”. Special judge Vrushali Joshi, while convicting the accused held the assault with weapons was not in continuation with the incident of molestation. “They [first] went away from the spot. All of them arranged for weapons to assault and they returned. There is a time gap, the anger was there. There was common intention to commit murder,” the court noted.
Rana, the main accused in the case, told the court they were innocent. “I have never touched a cigarette or a cold drink too. The allegations are false. There is no one to look after my family,” said Rana. Nikam said “The testimony of the two girls bolstered our case and their deposition was very detailed.” CONTINUED ON P10 RELATED REPORTS, P2