24-year-old Jeffy traveled from her home in Pathanamthitta district to capital city Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, 6 May to take part in a tribute organised for a Latvian woman tourist who was murdered in the state recently.
As she traveled a hundred km to take part in the tribute organised by the Latvian woman's sister, Jeffy could not but think about her own younger sister Jesna.
Jesna Maria James went missing on 22 March. 46 days on, the Kerala police are clueless as to what happened to the 20-year-old BCom student.
Jesna, who her family describes as an introvert, set out from her home in Vechoochira in Pathanamthitta district, to go to her aunt's house in Punchavayal in the neighbouring Kottayam district, a distance of hardly 20 kilometers.
On March 21, Jesna had told her aunt Sisily that she would be visiting. But Jesna did not make it - she simply vanished.
On March 22, Jesna set out from her home in Vechoochira. To reach Punchavayal, Jesna normally takes an autorickshaw to one point, then a bus to Erumeli, and then another bus from Erumeli to Mundakkayam.
That day, our father and younger brother had left home in the morning and Jesna was alone at home. Our mother had passed away nine months ago. She went to our aunt’s house, just like she used to in the past. She took an auto to Mukkoottukara and got on Thomson bus to reach Erumeli. From there she took a bus to Mundakkayam. In order to reach our aunt’s place, ideally there are three bus stops where we can get down. She hasn’t got down in any of those.Jeffy, who recently completed BEd, to TNM.
Police retrieved CCTV footage that shows Jesna getting down at Erumeli. From there, she took another bus to Mundakkayam. However, the police have no leads as to what happened to Jesna after she boarded the second bus.
It is not clear whether she alighted the bus or not. People have seen her get on the bus and have said that she was in the bus until the stop prior to the Mundakkayam stop. Then, where did she go? Where did she vanish to?24-year-old Jeffy, Jesna’s sister to TNM
While leaving her house on the morning of 22 March, Jesna had taken two books with her. A student of St Dominic’s College in Kanjirappally, Jesna had been preparing for her semester exam.
She told her neighbour too that she was going to her aunt's house. Jeffy finds nothing unusual about this.
"Even if I were in her place, I would have done the same. If no one is at home and we feel lonely, we generally go to our aunt's house. That's usual," she asserts.
While the police believe that Jesna might have left home on her own accord, her family refutes it and says that they fear someone could have abducted her.
Jesna's younger brother Jais, an engineering student, too suspects foul play in her disappearance.
There’s no way she would have gone on her own. She did not have any affair, and there were no fights at home. Her phone had no balance and she is not the kind who carries her mobile everywhere.Jais, Jesna’s younger brother to TNM
Jais says that the family suspects she could have been abducted.
"Soon after she went missing, we approached Kumili police. Kumili is just two hours from Mundakkayam, which is a forest area. We accessed CCTV visuals from bus stations and the TN border. But we found nothing. If she would have gone on her own, it would have been visible in the footage," Jais says.
With no leads emerging from Kerala, the family now hopes that people in Tamil Nadu and the media in the state will help circulate Jesna's details, as Idukki falls on the border of the two states.
The police keep questioning us, they think there are issues at home and so she left. But that’s not true at all. We are a close-knit family and there are no issues. People who know Jesna would vouch for the fact. We don’t believe she left home on her own, or with someone. All of us know our family’s situation and would never do something like that. Jesna won’t either.Jeffy said.
The Latvian tourist too, had gone missing in March. Weeks later, her decomposed body was found by the police.
Justice For Jesna
After Jesna's mysterious disappearance, a Facebook community by the name 'Justice for Jesna' was formed, to urge the police to speed up the probe. So far, the community has organised several protest demonstrations in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam.
(The story was originally published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit send).
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)