Idukki: The police are on the lookout for a 28-year-old man after a plus-two student, Reshma Rajesh, was found stabbed to death near the powerhouse area at Pallivasal in Kerala's Idukki district.
Reshma, 17, daughter of Vandipara natives Rajesh and Jessy, was found with stab injuries around 9.30pm on Friday.
The police are on the lookout for Arun (Anu), the son of Reshma's uncle. Arun, who works at a furniture shop at Rajakumari, used to stay at his friend's place. The police said that the girl had a romantic relationship with Arun. The police suspect that a dispute over this could have led to the murder.
Reshma was a student of the Bison Valley Government Higher Secondary School. When she did not return home even late on Friday, her relatives filed a complaint with the Vellathooval police.
Local people had seen Reshma and Arun walking down the road near the powerhouse around 4.30pm on Friday. The police have also got the CCTV images from a nearby resort that showed the duo walking together on the road. Reshma was found dead among the bushes near the road. She had sustained stab injuries to her left chest, neck and left hand.
About 15 minutes after both of them were seen together last, Reshma is suspected to have sustained the stab injuries, as per preliminary conclusion. This is what led the cops to suspect Arun was the culprit.
It was also confirmed that the girl was attacked using a sharp weapon such as a chisel. The fact that Arun is a carpenter, also strengthens the suspicion against him. However, the murder weapon is yet to be found.
The dog squad and forensic team carried out checks at the crime spot on Saturday. Reshma's bag was found from the riverbank.
The police also suspect that the parts of a mobile phone and footwear found at the crime spot belonged to Arun. However, the battery and mobile cover were found to be removed.
This phone was found to be switched off from Friday evening. Therefore, no leads are likely to be found by tracking the phone.
The CCTV images and the local people's statements are the only leads into the case.
The police said that steps were taken on Friday night itself to ensure that Arun does not leave Idukki district. The cops also went to the houses of his relatives and friends. The police need to find Arun to get more clarity on the incident.
However, Reshma's father Rajesh said that Arun, a relative, used to visit their home. Arun interacted amiably with everyone in the family and that he did not find anything suspicious in his behaviour. Rajesh, a daily-wage worker, had shifted to Pallivasal powerhouse from Kothamangalam about 18 years ago. The family lived at a rented accommodation. Vishnu is Reshma's only sibling.
Mother waited but...
Normally, Reshma returned home from school along with her mother. After taking the bus till Kunjithanny, she would walk home and her mother would join her mid-way.
Reshma's mother Jessy works at a private resort near the powerhouse. Jessy waited for Reshma till 5pm on Friday. As Reshma did not turn up, she went alone home and the police were informed. Reshma's classmates said that she had left the school as usual that day.
According to the post-mortem, the girl's death was caused by a single stab that pierced her heart.
Kottayam Medical College forensic surgeon Dr S Sreejith led the post-mortem. Tests held at the Adimali taluk hospital also confirmed COVID-19 infection for Reshma.
The probe into the case is led by Vellathooval SHO R Kumar, SIs C V Ulahannan, Saji N Paul, and Robinson.