Keenan-Reuben mur­der: 4 con­victed, get life in jail

Judge says they were not spur- of- the- mo­ment killings

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Correspondent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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

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