'Reuben wanted to watch India vs Pak with friends'

'Reuben wanted to watch India vs Pak with friends'

File photo of Keenan Santos with his woman friend

Mumbai:  Two years after 24-year-old Keenan Santos and 29-year-old Reuben Fernandes died protecting their friends from molesters, MiD DAY visited the families of the bravehearts, who recalled the day that changed their lives forever. They told this paper that they hoped the judicial process would speed up and deliver a verdict soon.

Reuben's parents Ronald and Bridget said, "It was the day Reuben's exams had gotten over. India was playing Pakistan on the day and he wanted to watch the match with his friends. So they all decided to go for dinner to a restaurant."

Bridget continued, "Many people have different views about what happened after. But one cannot stop youngsters from leaving home and meeting their friends. Also, it was kind of a regular activity for their group.

Reuben fought for life for nine days, but lost the battle on the tenth. It was a huge loss for us. My younger son Benjamin was also there with them, but he was brutally hit and does not recollect what happened. We ask him about the incident whenever we pass by that lane, but he fails to recall anything. Nothing can replace the loss of the family, but we want the decision of the court to be out soon."

Fraction of whole

Two years since the double-murder case in Amboli that shook the city's conscience, the DN Nagar police station has produced in court only 16 of the 80 witnesses whose statements they have recorded. Cops have submitted the samples collected from the crime spot and the forensic report to the court, along with the chargesheet.

The murders

On the night of October 20, 2011, seven friends went to Amboli Kitchen and Bar in Andheri (W) to watch a cricket match on the big screen. When the group - Keenan Santos (24), Reuben Fernandes (29), Avinash Bali, Benjamin Fernandes, Priyanka Fernandes, Shobhita and another girl - was leaving the restaurant, a group of drunken men standing outside made lewd remarks about the girls.

Keenan and Reuben stood up to them, but the men stabbed the duo. Keenan died on the spot, while Reuben was taken to Cooper Hospital and then to Ambani Hospital. He succumbed on October 30. The main accused Jitendra Rana, arrested along with Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulhaj and Dipak Tival soon after the incident, is currently lodged in the Arthur Road jail.

A source from DN Nagar police station said, "From the very beginning, we took this case on priority basis. Single lapses can affect the case and we are producing all the evidence after double-checking it to make this case strong."  The source added, "As the matter is in court, we cannot say more about it. But the victims' family members will get justice on time. The result of this case will teach a lesson to the accused."

'That night changed everything'

Sheldon Santos, Keenan's younger brother, told us that life had completely changed for their family. "My brother was the heart of the family and we miss him a lot. We are all proud of him. He was a brave man and fought for a girl in trouble. Being the eldest of three sons, he used to take care of the family and was active in interacting with relatives. Since he is no more, my twin and I are taking care of our parents. We have to be more mature now," said Sheldon. Recalling the incident, he said, "It was an unfortunate day. The place where the incident took place was not unknown to us. We had been there several times." He added, "I have noticed people have changed for the better, and they come forward when they see something untoward on the road."

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