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Dec 06, 2012 at 09:49pm IST

Mumbai youth killed for opposing molesters, five arrested

Mumbai: In a case disturbingly similar to the Keenan Reuben murders of 2011, Dombivali boy Santosh Vichivara was knifed to death for taking on goons who were harassing a girl in his colony. As many as five people have been arrested in the case, of which four minors have been sent to juvenile homes. The other accused, who is an 18-year-old youth was sent to 10-day custody.

Reacting to the death of the victim, the sole bread earner of the family after his father died two years ago, his mother Vimal said, "My son has done a very brave thing. He stood up for the girl and this is what happened. He was always like this, he used to help people...I think the accused should be given the strictest punishment."

Here's how the events unfolded. According to the police, Santosh and a girl from his colony were walking home from the bus stop at night when five boys started passing lewd comments against her and asked for her phone number.

Following the misbehaviour with the girl, Santosh confronted the boys and entered into an argument with them. In some time, the argument quickly turned violent and the boys began hitting Santosh and ended up stabbing him several times.

According to the experts, procedural delays in sexual harassment cases have emboldened offenders. Despite being fast-tracked, the trial in the Keenan Reuben case took more than a year to begin, and the conviction rate for sex crimes in Maharashtra is a mere five per cent. Crime records in the state show rape cases have gone up by 16 per cent and molestation cases by 14 per cent in 2012.

After the huge outcry over the murder of Keenan and Reuben in 2011, the police formed squads against molestation and the Chief Minister and Home Minister promised that such crime would be made a non-bailable offence. However, with all of these promises remaining only on paper even after a year, sexual offenders in the city are having a free run.