The meeting was held in a hall at the Navneet Nagar society, with nearly 1,500 people in attendance. After a sombre expression of sympathy, the mourners marched on the streets. Candles were lit and passed around silently and the procession began from Navneet Nagar around 6.30 pm.
As the procession passed on to Desalepada, residents of buildings along the way joined in. They, too, were given lit candles and the crowd swelled to nearly 2,500 by the time it reached the Lodha Circle, from where it turned back to Navneet Nagar.
The Vicchivoras silently walked ahead, mutely accepting expressions of condolence and sympathy from the people. “It was heartening to see the turnout. It made us feel as if we were not alone,” said Santosh’s cousin Darshan Vicchivora.
The Vicchivoras thanked the people for coming, and waited at the gates of the complex with joined hands as the mourners slowly dispersed.
Also present was Kantilal Gada, who was injured while trying to save Santosh. He is the prime eyewitness in the case.
Residents of Navneet Nagar have submitted a written request to the police, demanding either a chowky or regular patrolling in the area. Till that happens, residents have taken to patrolling the area themselves.
“We are not interested in confrontation with the authorities. I believe that we are well within our rights in demanding a chowky or considerable police presence in the area,” Gada said.
Santosh’s female friend was not part of the condolence meeting or the march. “It is an equally difficult time for her as well. We can hardly expect her to come out in public after what happened,” said Darshan.
Victim of social menace
On December 5, Santosh Vicchivora and his female friend were on their way home when a group of five young men allegedly passed lewd remarks at her. Santosh confronted them, which led to an altercation, and one of the offenders, Pankaj Pal (18), stabbed him in the chest with a chopper. Santosh was declared dead before admission at the Dombivali Civil Hospital. All five accused were subsequently arrested by the Manpada police.