Is Jesus Christ buried at Rozabal?, Moses at Bandipore, Haroun at Harwan and Solomon at Takht-i-Sulaiman?

Srinagar, Mar 9: Who is buried at the Rozabal shrine in downtown city? Jesus Christ? A researcher from New York is currently in Kashmir to find out who.

Her search does not stop there. Suzanne Marie Olsson claims Kashmir is dotted with the graves of holy prophets. She believes Moses (AS) is buried at Bandipore in the north, Hazrat Haroun (AS) at Harwan and Solomon (AS) at Takht-i-Sulaiman here and Hazrat Mariam at Murree in Pakistan. Local beliefs give credence to her contention.

"You have more Christian holy sites than even Egypt or Israel has", says Suzanne, presently here on a project to verify the authenticity of her belief that Jesus is entombed at Rozabal.

She has devoted her life to gathering archaeological evidences of the tombs of many prophets across the world. Moreover, she claims to be a direct descendant of the Christ and as such insists Jesus is her "grandfather".

Claims may be far-fetching and even unduly straining of the common man’s credibility but the lady has a strictly no-nonsense approach towards her work and her "purely scientific objective". This is to exhume the remains of the holy saint at Rozabal, send these for DNA testing and carbon dating to "trace him to his origin".

"This will resolve the raging controversy over the identity of the place forever", claims Suzanne.

She claims to have already dug up a shrine at Murree in Pakistan under the supervision of the world renowned archaeologist Prof Emeritus Ahmad Hassan Dani and Saida Rahman director general archaeology and museums in Pakistan. The exhumed remains have been sent for the DNA testing and the report is awaited.

"Now Rozabal holds the key. If the remains there are sent for testing and then tallied with the results of the Murree project, it will either establish the link between the two shrines as being of similar origin and thus authenticate the Marium-Jesus theory or prove it wrong for good", says Suzanne.

But here lies the rub. The project has run up against the firm opposition from the Intizammia Committee of Rozabal who are dead against allowing any "digging up" to be done at the shrine. Not only because they rever the shrine as the tomb of the holy Muslim saint Yuza Asaf but also because exhuming the remains will be a "desecration" of the shrine.

"We will never allow it", said Muhammad Amin Ringshawl, the president of the Intizammia Commmittee.

Another reason cited for refusal is the Islamic belief that Jesus did not die on the Cross and was lifted to heaven by God while he was being taken to Crucifixion by the infidels. So even to think that Christ is buried in person somewhere is a sacrilege for a Muslim.

But Suzanne is adamant and insists about the "purely scientific nature of her work " and her identity as a "seeker of truth". She pleads to be allowed to "verify the origin and the identity of the saint" so that she can put the wild speculations about the place to rest. She claims she has done similar work across the globe and exhumed the shrines even in Muslim countries like Egypt, latest being in Murree (Pakistan). She supports her claim by showing a photograph of the dug-up Murree shrine.

"I am only helping Kashmir. If the authenticity of all the holy places in Kashmir is established, it will place Kashmir firmly on global map as a leading pilgrimage site of Christians and Muslims and you will have the pilgrim traffic from all over the world", says Suzzane, disappointed over the Intizammia Committee’s "eleventh hour refusal to co-operate".

She has been here for the past six months and moved from pillar to post to get permission for her project, which includes some top officials like Shafi Shaida press secretary to chief minister. She has even written to Dr Farooq Abdullah and is still awaiting the answer. Suzanne hasn’t lost hope. She is dead confident about her eventual success in getting the help of not only the official machinery but also the people for her "noble project".

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