Kavitha Rasaratnam, the mother of Pulasthini Mahendran alias Sarah Jesmin believed to be the wife of the Katuwapitiya Church bomber Mohamed Hasthun testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks yesterday (26).
Testifying before the commission, Rasaratnam said her eldest daughter Pulasthini who was born in 1996 in Batticaloa. She said Pulasthini had obtained eight A’s and one E at the Ordinary level examinations and chosen to study in the science stream for her advanced level examinations.
She told the Commission that Pulasthini had gone to attend tuition classes for her advanced level examinations in Kalmunai when she had gone missing on July 29, 2015. Rasaratnam said she was employed abroad at the time when her mother had informed her that Pulasthini had not returned home. “I told my mother to lodge a complaint with the Kalawanchikudy Police regarding the matter,” she said.
Rasaratnam recalled that a man identifying himself Abdul Razik had then called her brother. She said they later found out that Abdul Razik, the leader of the Ceylon National Towheed Jamath had forced Pulasthini to convert to Islam and he had then married her off to Mohamed Hasthun.
Excerpts of the Kavitha Rasaratnam’s testimony :
What had Abdul Razik told your brother?
The man identified as Abdul Razik had told my brother that Pulasthini was with him and had been converted to Islam. I was really troubled after hearing the news. I returned to Sri Lanka immediately. After my return, I visited the NTJ office in Maligawatta. I saw Pulasthini there. She was dressed in an Abhaya.
Were you given the chance to speak to Pulasthini?
Yes, I was able to talk to her for around 4 hours. I asked her to return home with me. She agreed to it. But our discussions were being observed by Abdul Razik through CCTV. They kept interrupting us from time to time. Pulasthini then later refused to come home. I later lodged a complaint with the Maligawatta Police, and Pulasthini came there with Abdul Razik.
Did Pulasthini return home with you?
Yes, after that she returned home with me. She discarded the Abhaya and even engaged in Hindu religious rituals.
Did Abdul Razik call you again?
Yes, he called after 15 days. He said my daughter was only handed to me for 15 days and he will take legal action against me. I told him that Pulasthini has now returned to Hinduism.
Did Abdul Razik threaten Pulasthini at the time?
Yes, he said he knows how to convince her to turn to them. I visited the hospital with her on September 24, 2015 because I was unwell but she went missing from there. I complained to the Batticaloa Police on the same day. He called me later and said my daughter was back with them and now she has been married off. The next day I went back to the NTJ office.
There I saw her with a man identified as Hasthun. Abdul Razik was also with them and two other persons. They had changed her name to Sarah Jesmin. I complained to the Maligawatta Police about this but they told me they can do nothing as it’s a legal marriage. Abdul Razik told me to go back home. He said she and Hastun will be given a home and money.
Did Sarah ever call you later and tell you that she was unable to live with Hasthun?
It’s something she told me often. In 2016 I got her to join me in Abu Dhabi due to the same reason. She returned to Sri Lanka in 4 months. Later due to a complaint made by Hastun to the Kattankudy Police, they have reconciled the couple and the couple settled in the town. She called me on February 19, 2019 and asked me to not contact her again. I have not heard or seen her since.
I returned to Sri Lanka on April 7, 2019. I complained to the Narammala Police and requested their help to find my daughter. A CID officer called Roshan then met me. He told me they were looking for her all over. He also said Abdul Razik had heard they were looking for Sarah, and he had sent one of his representatives to meet him who claimed Sarah was with Zahran’s wife.
I later saw my daughter’s picture with those wanted for the Easter Sunday attacks. I was called in by the Ampara Police on January 10 this year and was told to identify jewelry of those who died in the explosion in Sainthamaruthu on April 26, 2019. There was none belonging to my daughter there.
Was a DNA test carried out?
Yes, but my DNA did not match any of the DNA profiles of those who died in Sainthamurthu. But when I visited the CID to provide a statement I met Zahran’s wife. She told me Sarah was with her when the incident took place.