By Shamindra Ferdinando
Western Province Governor Azath Salley yesterday alleged that Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hasthun, who blew up the Easter Sunday congregation at St. Sebastian Church, Katuwapitiya, had married an underage Tamil girl, Pulasthini Rajendran, alias Sarah from Batticaloa before the attack.
The blast caused by Hasthun claimed the lives of over 100 men, women and children. Altogether nearly 260, including about 40 foreigners perished in the blasts in Colombo, Batticaloa and Katuwapitiya.
Salley, who himself is under attack by former Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse for promoting extremism, revealed that the girl had eloped with Hasthun some time back though they couldn’t get married as she was a minor.
Had she been a Muslim, they could have avoided legal issues, Salley said, adding that even the Maligawatte police were aware of this matter. Salley said that the girl was studying in the GCE Ordinary Level class at the time she eloped with Hasthun.
Later, Hasthun had handed over the girl to her mother but after about two weeks she again eloped with the him, former UNP Deputy Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council alleged.
According to him, Abdul Razeek of the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamat (SLTJ) had been involved with Hasthun and the latter brought the girl from Batticaloa to the Colombo office of Razeek.
The girl had converted to Islam and got married to Hasthun in the run up to the Easter Sunday bombings, Salley said.
Salley said that Hasthun was the one captured on CCTV (Close Circuit TV) touching a little girl very close to the entrance of the Katuwapitiya church.
Asked whether they were aware of the whereabouts of Sarah, Salley said that she was among those killed in Sainthamarudu in explosions triggered by them after being trapped by the police backed by the military on April 26.
Responding to another query, Salley said that authorities should examine the possibility of Sarah being tasked to carry out the second wave of bombings with several others who perished in Sainthamarudu explosions.
Before the Sainthamarudu incident, the CIC sought public assistance to track down Sarah.
Salley emphasized that in addition to the National Thowheed Jamat and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI), all other related organizations, too, should be proscribed without further delay. He urged law enforcement authorities and intelligence services to investigate Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamat’s Abdul Razeek to ascertain the extent of the current security threat. The Western Province Governor said that he had brought the ground situation to the attention of President Maithripala Sirisena and also furnished vital information to the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) regarding the SLTJ.
Salley alleged that the Jamat movement had received a lot of funds and that had led to disputes and splits. They never heeded elders’ advice and caused so much trouble over the years, Salley said, alleging some members had received funds from military authorities during the previous administration.
A much wider investigation was required to ascertain the funding sources, beneficiaries and those who co-operated with these destructive elements and why, Salley said. The WP Governor vowed to expose those responsible for the Easter Sunday massacres. Salley said that he would soon seek an appointment with the Chief Justice as well as the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to complain about some judges colluding with extremists. Salley revealed that he had brought to President Sirisena’s notice how a certain judge, based in the Batticaloa district, in spite of opposition from the police and Muslim leadership, allowed the construction of a Mosque.
Salley alleged that the police on many occasions turned a blind eye to complaints by the community against the destructive elements.