Mumbai, May 5 (IANS) A special women’s court on Thursday sentenced to life imprisonment till death four youths charged with killing two men who tried to prevent the molestation of their women friends five years ago.
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 the two tried to stop them from harassing their woman friends outside a restaurant in Andheri.
Special judge Vrushali Joshi pronounced the sentence on the four 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 victims had been finally got justice.
Keenan and Reuben were killed when they tried to prevent the 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 the media.
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. This was objected to by Keenan and Reuben and they chased him away.
Enraged, Rana 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 in a hospital.
Following a public outcry on safety of women, the assailants were arrested the next morning (October 21, 2011) from Amboli area and the case was assigned to a fast track Special Women’s Court.
The police filed a 400-plus page charge-sheet before the Andheri Metropolitan Court in January 2012. The court framed the charges of murder, conspiracy and molestation against the accused.
During the trial, 28 witnesses were examined, including five witnesses, among them the two women whom the victims had bravely defended from the eve-teasers.