Pathanamthitta: With the Kerala High Court ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the mysterious disappearance of Jesna Maria James almost three years ago, relatives of the 20-year-old college student are hopeful of a breakthrough. It was on March 22, 2018 that Jesna, daughter of James Joseph of Kunnathu House located at Kollamula in Vechoochira in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district, went missing.
Speaking to Manorama, her father James said his entire family is praying for the return of Jesna.
Did you expect the High Court to order a CBI probe?
We had indeed sought a CBI probe and are pleased that the Court handed over the case to the Central agency. We hope the CBI would be able to clear the mystery over Jesna.
Wasn't the investigation by the Kerala Police satisfactory?
The Kerala Police did carry out a probe but there were no positive results. In fact, the police have failed to locate where Jesna is at present.
What made you withdraw the habeas corpus petition?
The plea was filed on behalf of the then investigating officer retired SP K G Simon and DGP Tomin J Thachankary. However, we later received legal advice that a habeas corpus plea naming investigating officers could be rejected.
You also made submissions to the prime minister. What was the response?
It likely had a bearing on the present order on handing over the case to the CBI. However, I have no clear idea about the matter.
During the last three years was there any situation that made you believe that Jesna could be traced?
Many people contacted us and passed on much information which we handed over to the Pathanamthitta police. There was no other definite clue.
Do you think that Jesna is still alive?
That is what we would like to believe.
It was heard that Jesna was confined by some extremist organisations. What is your opinion?
We have no clue. Moreover, we have no evidence to confirm that such information could be true.
Are you hopeful about the investigation?
We are happy as well as hopeful about the CBI probe.
Jesna was a second-year B Com student at a Kanjirappally college at the time of her disappearance. On the day she went missing Jesna had said that she was heading to a relative's house at Punchavayal in Mundakkayam. The police had launched a probe based on a missing complaint filed by Jesna's father. The local police and later a special team led by the IG carried out investigations. After reports emerged that Jesna had left home with a friend belonging to Punchavayal, the police questioned her classmate. However, the case made no headway.
The police subsequently tracked thousands of phone calls with the help of cyber experts, but again there was no clue. After the case led to a ruckus in the Kerala Assembly, the Crime Branch took over the investigation. Police soon carried out probe at places such as Bengaluru, Pune, Goa and Chennai based on CCTV visuals obtained from there.
From the visuals, it was evident that Jesna had reached Erumely. Two others who were seen near her are yet to be identified.
The police had set up boxes at public places in Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki districts so that anyone who had some clue about Jesna could provide leads. Moreover, the DGP announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any person who provides information on Jesna.
In May 2020, ADGP of Crime Branch Tomin Thachankary had announced that certain specific clues had been received regarding the missing youngster. Subsequently, the then District Police Chief K G Simon visited Jesna's house, sparking speculations.
Meanwhile, reports about Jesna reaching Bengaluru were proved untrue. Currently, the search for the missing college student has been extended all over the country.