Mumbai: The air was charged with emotion as thousands gathered to pay their last respects to Reuben Fernandez at his funeral in Amboli church yesterday. Reuben was stabbed by a bunch of goons on October 20, and succumbed to his injuries on Monday. Tributes were led by his father, who solemnly acknowledged his 29-year-old son's untimely death in a poignant eulogy in the church.
"God calls only the young ones who are dear to him. Although these are testing times for our family, we will always be bonded by Reuben's memories," said his father Ronnie at the funeral service.
Reuben's younger brother, Benjamin, who was by his elder brother's side throughout the 11 days he was battling for life in the hospital, said tearfully, "I will always miss you my brother... I cannot believe that Reuben is no more. He was the most courageous person I have ever known. He always taught me compassion and wouldn't tolerate any thing wrong happening to his family."
With the momentum for justice gathering pace, friends of Reuben, and Keenan Santos, who also lost his life in the altercation on October 20, created a FaceBook page called 'Keenan Santos' which has 19,000 members, demanding justice for the brutal deaths of the duo.
"Reuben could not tolerate injustice. On that fateful night when the goons stabbed Santos, Reuben stepped forward and defended Santos saying, 'Hit me, why are you hitting him?' The gang retaliated and stabbed him brutally in the stomach. Reuben bore the blows but stayed put and did not let the goons harm the girls who were with them," said one of Reuben's friends. Reuben, who had graduated from Thakur Polytechnic was the only earning member in his family.
On October 20, Reuben and Keenan were stabbed by a group of hoodlums at a paan shop outside a restaurant in Amboli while they were defending the girls in their group from some lewd men. While Keenan died a few hours later in hospital, Reuben breathed his last on Monday. The D N Nagar police had arrested the four accused, and the magistrate remanded them to 14 days in custody.