Keenan-Reuben case: Accused laughed when identified

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Mumbai:  The Keenan and Reuben murder case has led to a nation-wide demand for stringent punishment to the guilty. But in jail, the four accused have shown no remorse or guilt when confronted by the victims' close friends.

Avinash Solanki, the complainant in the case, has told NDTV that the main accused Jitendra Rana started laughing when he was identified.

"After identifying him, he told me: 'Phir milenge. We shall meet again.' I told him I would," said Solanki, still unable to come to terms with the brush he had with Rana.

The police had called in eyewitnesses at the Arthur Road jail for an identification parade. On Wednesday, 11 eyewitnesses individually identified the four men accused of murder.

Priyanka Fernandes, another eyewitness and Keenan's girlfriend, said, "When I went inside to identify them, there was no guilt at all on the four of them. They looked at us without any regret. In their eyes, there was no guilt or remorse at all."

"They were looking and staring at us..standing upright as if they have done something good," she said.

Solanki said they had to identify the four accused from a line-up of 28 people. They looked a bit different as one of them now had a beard and another was wearing a cap but he managed to identify all of them since he had seen them commit the crime, he said.

Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez were killed in Mumbai while fighting eve-teasers. 17 men have been arrested including four who were booked on charges of murder and eve-teasing.

Keenan was 24; Reuben was 29.

On the night of October 20, they had dinner with a group of friends at an Andheri restaurant. When they stepped out, Rana began harassing the girls with them, including Priyanka. Keenan and Reuben got into an argument with them.

Insulted, Rana vowed to avenge the humiliation and returned with a group of 20 supporters. Keenan and Reuben were then stabbed repeatedly with sickles and knives. Keenan died that night; Reuben passed away in hospital a few days later.

The deaths of Keenan and Reuben shocked India partly because witnesses like Priyanka have pointed out that bystanders did not try to help them.

Keenan's family and friends have been demanding quick justice and zero tolerance to sexual harassment. The case has been sent to a fast-track court.

Ujjwal Nikam has been appointed as the public prosecutor.

Even the political class has supported the move to make sexual harassment offences non-bailable.

However, it will take a lot more to change the attitude of the first responders, the public who hopefully don't just stand and stare but act and speak up.

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