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Scientist looks for Jesus' body in Kashmir

An American researcher who believes she has found the final resting place of Jesus Christ is campaigning to exhume a body at a Muslim shrine in Kashmir for scientific tests.

Suzanne Marie Olsson, a New York-based researcher is currently in Srinagar, studying the Muslim shrine of Rozabal.

While Muslims say Rozabal houses the tomb of Yuza Asaf, a Muslim saint, many researchers believe it contains the body of Jesus Christ.

To put an end to speculation Olsson has suggested exhuming the remains at Rozabal for DNA testing and carbon dating.

"This will trace him (the saint) to his origin ... and resolve the raging controversy over the identity of the place forever," she told the Sunday edition of Kashmir's leading daily, the Greater Kashmir.

Olsson has already dug up a shrine at the Murree hill station in Pakistan under the supervision of archaeologists Ahmad Hassan Dani and Saida Rahman.

Muree is believed to be the resting place of Jesus' mother, Mary (Marium). "The exhumed remains have been sent for the DNA testing and the report is awaited," she told the newspaper.

"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."

However, her project has run into trouble with the managers of the Rozabal shrine, who are strongly opposed to its "desecration".

"We will never allow it," said Mohammed Amin, one of the managers. But Olsson, stressing the "purely scientific nature of her work" and her identity as a "seeker of truth", is pleading to be allowed to "verify the origin and identity of the saint" to put to rest wild speculation.

She has even written to Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah for help. Olsson also believes Moses is buried in Bandipore in north Kashmir, the Islamic prophet Haroun at Harwan, on the outskirts of Srinagar, and Solomon at Takht-i-Suliaman in Srinagar.

"You have more Christian holy sites than even Egypt or Israel," she said in her appeal to the chief minister.

Olsson says she wants to unravel the truth about the shrines so that Kashmir, ravaged by a decade-long insurgency that has claimed 35,000 lives, can become a pilgrimage centre for Christians and Muslims.



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