The recent case of double murder at Amboli that claimed the lives of two young men may have shocked the city, but it was not the only instance where a seemingly petty dispute led to a heinous crime.
In the past three months, the city has seen at least 10 cases that started off as minor arguments, but ended with one of the parties losing their lives or sustaining grievous injuries, at the least.
Police, sociologists and psychiatrists attribute this to frustration building up inside the city's stressed residents. Issues that would have been overlooked or easily ignored 10 years ago are now motives behind several serious crimes registered in the recent past.
"Our goal is to curb crime, but acts of violence triggered by trivial issues are hard to control, as they could occur in any corner of the city," said Jaywant Hargude, assistant commissioner of police (crime branch). "In this regard, the family and friends can play the most important role."
In the Amboli incident, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes were stabbed when they stood up for female friend who was purportedly being harassed by a few men standing by the way. The matter that started as a tiff, ended with the two young men losing their lives leaving their families to wonder how a small jaw-jaw degenerated into a bloodied fight.
While some police officers say that such incidents will be common when people are forced to fight for survival, others say that it is egos that claim more lives than stress.
Using the Amboli incident as an example, a senior officer from the crime branch said, "The incident in which Keenan and Reuben were murdered appeared to be a result of an ego-clash. Avinash Solanki slapped the accused as an act of revenge; their ego hurt, Rana and his men got back at the group to settle scores."
A street-fight that ended in a murder
On October 20, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes, along with five other friends, including three women, had gone to Amboli Bar and Kitchen in Andheri West to watch a cricket match at the restaurant.
After dinner, the group was waiting at the paan shop outside the restaurant where Jitendra Rana and his friends were standing. Rana allegedly passed lewd comments at the women, which irked the others. When confronted, Rana refused to budge. With Rana not heeding to warnings, Avinash Solanki, one of the men in the group, slapped Rana, who left the spot with his three friends hurling abuses. They return eda few minutes later, armed with knives and stumps. Rana and friends charged at the group and stabbed Reuben and Keenan. Keenan, who was stabbed thrice, died on the same day, while Reuben died on October 31 while undergoing treatment.
Rana and friends were arrested on charges of murder, outraging modesty of a woman and criminal intimidation.
Killed over an argument
On September 27, Kurar police arrested a father-son duo in connection with the murder of their friend, 28-year-old Rakesh Kumar Maurya, over a trivial dispute in Malad. All three were employed as security guards and used to share the same room.
The three had worked out an arrangement wherein whoever was on night duty would fill water in the overhead water tank of the building. However, Rakesh would never fill water and would get into arguments with Deepak on several occasions. On September 8, after one such argument, Deepak attacked Rakesh with a spade and then strangulated him. Deepak informed his father about the murder and the duo together dumped the body in the drainage chamber.
"The body was discovered by locals but it took us some time to identify the deceased as the body had decomposed. When we realised that the other two security guards had gone missing, we sent a team to their hometown in Madhya Pradesh from where they were arrested," said Subhash Dafle, senior police inspector with the Kurar police station.
The father-son duo, booked on charges of murder, is currently lodged in the jail.
Man kills mother in frustration
On October 31, a 35-year-old man from Chunabhatti killed his ailing mother for not eating her meals and for soiling the bed.
Nana Jagtap, who is unemployed, had taken up the responsibility of taking care of his mother, while his younger brother would support the family financially.
Jagtap would fight with his mother often. His patience snapped when his mother refused to eat and soiled the bed even after being warned against doing so. Jagtap reportedly slapped the bed-ridden woman who could not survive the blows. Jagtap admitted to hitting her in a fit of rage, but said he did not intend to kill her.
Jagtap was neither drunk nor did he harbour any serious ill-will for the woman. Police said Jagtap had lost his job three months before the incident and had been taking care of his mother. "The frustration of unemployment and dependency on his younger brother had been building up inside Jagtap and he slapped his mother in a fit of rage without the intention of hurting her," said Damodar Chaudhari, senior police inspector of Chunabhatti police station.
Jagtap has been booked for murder, and is currently lodged in jail.