By: Keyur Seta
Mr Valerian Santos’ struggle for justice finally ended after four and a half years on May 5 when the four killers of his son, Keenan Santos and his friend, Reuben Fernandez were given life imprisonment by a Sessions Court in Mumbai. Keenan and Reuben were stabbed to death for rescuing their female friends from getting sexually harassed.
Losing a young son in a gruesome murder can be a nightmare beyond words for any parent and Mr Santos isn’t any less human. However, Keenan’s shocking and untimely death hasn’t deterred Mr Santos from encouraging his younger son from rescuing the oppressed.
“This will not deter me. I still believe that if you see somebody in trouble, you should help. I tell my younger soon too, ‘You should always stand up against wrongdoing, even if it means you becoming another Keenan,’” said Mr Santos. He was speaking at a special interaction organized by the Loksatta Party in Mumbai.
When the incident was taking place, people turned out to be mute spectators. But what troubles Mr Santos even more is that nobody came forward to help or console their female friends even after the killers had vanished.
“People were just standing in a circle and watching the tamasha. At least console them. As the criminals had fled, nobody was going to harm them. I told the crowd, ‘Bandar naach rahe hain aur tum tamasha dekh rahe ho?’ This hits me even till today,” he said.
He added, “Even animals stand up for each other. We are humans. We depend on each other. Try doing something good and leave the world by leaving behind a mark. If we don’t raise our voice against such incidents on road, tomorrow they will come to your house. Remember, every bhai was once a petty thief. Somewhere this should come to an end.”
But one shouldn’t forget the contribution of Investigating Officer (IO), Dnyanesh Devade, who put in a lot of efforts to make sure the perpetrators are sentenced. Mr Santos was all praise for him. “He has never taken anything from me. Rarely do we get to see such police officers.”
Devade, who was also present there, responded with, “I have not helped. I have just carried out my duty as a police officer.” The IO also revealed how a Pan wala, one of the key witnesses, was pressurized to not testify in the court against the culprits. “But he had faith in me. He said he will still go to court. He did and identified the offenders.”
Devade urged people to come forward and help the victims in such situations by citing Delhi’s infamous Nirbhaya case. “People have to come forward. We don’t live in jungles. If they (Keenan and Reuben) hadn’t come to the girls’ rescue, Nirbhaya would have occurred in Mumbai.”