Mumbai: The four accused in the murder of two young men who were stabbed when they tried to protect their girlfriends from being harassed, have been sent to judicial custody until November 18 by a local court.

The families and friends of the two victims, Keenan Santos, 24, and Reuben Fernandez, 29, who gathered at the suburban Andheri metropolitan magistrate's court were relieved that the men did not get bail.

The horrific incident on the night of October 20 in Amboli, Andheri West, has sent shock waves in the city which is becoming unsafe for ordinary people, especially women, as residents feel criminals are becoming more and more brazen and fearless of the police.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he was disturbed by the murders and Home Minister R.R. Patil has promised to put the case on a fast track court so the culprits are punished at the earliest. He said the families could be given a chance to choose the public prosecutor for the case.

Machetes

Fernandez and Santos sustained serious stab wounds while resisting a group of men who attacked them with machetes outside the Amboli Bar and Kitchen.

The accused were harassing their three female friends. Keenan died at the scene while Fernandez died in a hospital on October 31. The friends of the accused said they had called the city Police Control Room at the time of the attack but were kept on hold for at least ten to 15 minutes resulting in the police arriving late.

The deceased, along with five others, including three girls, had gone to a bar for dinner and to watch a cricket match. Later, they came out of the restaurant and were standing near a shop when the incident occurred.

The four accused — Jitendra Rana, 25, a barber, and three sweepers Satish Dulhaj, 35, Sunil Bodh, 20, and Deepak Tival, 18 — were immediately arrested and charged with murder, causing hurt by dangerous weapons, and mischief.

Police say the men have confessed and that they have also recovered the murder weapons from them.

The killings have outraged Mumbaikars and supporters have rallied behind the families of the victims to see the culprits are severely punished. A candlelight vigil was being planned last night even as the demand for a safe Mumbai is growing.