Mumbai, May 5 (IANS) A special women’s court here on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment four youths charged with killing two men who tried to prevent the molestation of their women friends five years ago, a top legal official said.
The convicts – Jitendra Rana, Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulgaj and Dipak Tival – had attacked Keenan Santos, 24, and his friend Rueben Fernandes, 29, on the night of October 20, 2011 after they tried to harass their woman friends outside a restaurant in Andheri.
Special judge Vrushali Joshi pronounced the sentence on the four accused in the presence of their family members, the kin of the victims and a large media contingent covering the sensational trial for the past five years.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he had not sought the death penalty for the accused since it was not the “rarest of rare cases”, there was “no conspiracy” and they were not “pre-planned” murders.
Keenan’s father, Valerian Santos, 57, expressed “satisfaction” over the verdict and said the two young men had been finally meted out justice.
Keenan and Reuben were killed when they tried to prevent harassment and molestation of their two women friends with whom they had gone out.
“However, this is just the beginning…The battle is not over, they might appeal in the higher courts and we have to wait,” Santos told media-persons shortly after the verdict.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan expressed happiness that “justice has been done in the case” and sought more stringent action in such cases involving crimes against women.
The incident, which left Mumbai shuddering, happened outside the Amboli Bar & Kitchen that Keenan, Rueben and their two female friends had stepped out from after dinner.
As they chatted outside the restaurant, one of the accused, Jitendra Rana, started misbehaving and sexually harassing one of the two women which was objected to by Keenan and Reuben and they chased him away.
Enraged by this, Rana went away after threatening them and returned a short while later with three associates armed with sticks and choppers.
They brutally attacked both Keenan and Reuben even as the horrified girls screamed for help from passers-by.
A seriously injured Keenan succumbed to his injuries a few hours later while Reuben died after nearly a fortnight while under treatment in a hospital.