The recent murder of two youths near their homes in Mumbai's suburban Andheri has posed a serious question - "Why are Mumbaikars reluctant to help the wounded persons who are begging for help?"
Reuben Fernandez (29) and Keenan Santos (24) lost their lives fighting for their female friend when local goons tried to sexually harass her on Oct. 20.
After dining at the Amboli Bar and Kitchen in suburban Andheri, Reuben, Keenan and their five friends stopped at a paan shop nearby.
They got into an argument with Jeetendra Rana when he allegedly started harassing Keenan's girlfriend, Priyanka Fernandes, in a drunken state. When they protested, Rana left. However, he returned with 20 cronies armed with knives and sword.
The goon and his cronies started thrashing Reuben and Keenan in front of around 50 people. And the most shocking part is that that the crowd stood unmoved when the helpless youth screamed for help. Rana and his team stabbed Keenan and Reuben and ran away. But none of them who were watching the happenings came forward to take them to hospital.
"We don't know why nobody came forward. We were begging for help. Nobody did, even when we were trying to take them to the hospital, nobody helped us lift them," said Priyanka.
"I am proud of my friends. They did not stand by and tolerate the brazen disrespect that our assailants displayed for women. They took the blows, uncomplainingly. I am equally disappointed with God's own people, who turned away, afraid that they would have to bear the brunt of a fight that was not theirs. They knew that we were fighting injustice," she added.
People who know the close friends said, "They dined at the restaurant every week and walked those very streets every day. But none of the restaurant employees, and not one of the local security guards came forward to help them, even though they knew them well."
Reuben and Keenan's friends had dialed the emergency number "100" for several times but the phone was put on hold. Almost after one and half hours, police reached the spot when they learnt about the incident.
Keenan died a few hours after the incident and friend Reuben succumbed to injuries at the Kokilaben Ambani Hospital Tuesday evening.
Through social networking site, Priyanka and her friends have taken a step ahead to pay justice to the accused for their friends.
The incident shocked the whole nation. "The incident is absolutely reprehensible. I have sympathies with the families. We have taken strict action against the four accused involved in the incident," TV channels quoted Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as saying.
He favored death penalty for the accused to root out goondaism from the state.
Families and friends of Reuben and Keenan demanded justice for the two brave hearts. "When I'll meet him in heaven, I will hug him and tell him that he has made me proud," said Keenan's father Valerian Santos.
The four accused - Jitendra Rana (25), Sunil Bodh (20), Satish Dulhaj (35) and Dipak Tival (19) - were Friday remanded in judicial custody till Nov. 18 by the Andheri metropolitan magistrate's court.