For as long as locals in Srinagar can remember, Kashmir’s Rozabal shrine has been the subject of an age-old debate: Was the shrine the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth? The belief is that Jesus survived the crucifixion and spent the rest of his years in Kashmir and the shrine was his final resting place.When a cab driver came under fire from locals for ferrying tourists hoping to capture a few shots of the shrine, which bans taking photos or shooting videos, the incident stirred up the controversy which has been around for hundreds of years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yet, despite this adverse public reaction, a few tourist guides confess to ferrying visitors late at night or during early morning hours to the shrine. “Many foreigners come to the valley with the intention of visiting this sacred place. As such, we take a risk and ferry them during darkness,” says a tourist guide, Jan Mohammad (names changed).The shrine of Muslim saints Hazrat Youza Asif and Syed Naseer-ud-Din garnered worldwide attention from news of the myth. An old glass-paned grilled window, which always remains open alongside a narrow alley, gives a glimpse inside the dimly-lit shrine, which is located in close proximity of famous ‘Dastgeer Sahib shrine’. The cause of controversyIn the narrow alleys of Khanyar area of Old City, where the shrine is only open on the 13th day of every month, according to lunar calendar, the young locals recount the story of American author Suzzane Olson who claimed to be a descendant of Jesus, came to Kashmir to obtain DNA from the shrine in the late 1990s. Olson’s claims increased the influx of tourists.When Olson attempted to dig the shrine to prove Jesus was buried there, it created communal tensions who strongly objected to it, forcing the then Divisional Commissioner Parvez Dewan during National Conference government led by Dr Farooq Abdullah to intervene and stall her move.“The caretakers of the shrine lodged FIR in the police station over the issue,” shares Altaf Hussain, a local who runs a community Quranic Darsgah and launched a campaign to reject the Jesus theory by giving lessons to visitors.Since then, locals have become increasingly wary of visits from curious foreign nationals and keep a close watch on the shrine. Now visitors get a history lesson about the shrine and Islam.Was Jesus really buried at the shrine?The myth and controversy caught the attention of many authors like Dan Brown and Ashwin Sanghi, both of whom have touched upon the subject in their work. It was initially the theory of Ghulam Ahmad Mirza ,the founder of the Ahmadiyah religion (Qadyani or Mirzai) ‘to prove his false prophethood’, according to Shoib-Bin Mukhtar, a Kashmiri scholar, who lives in the vicinity of the shrine.Mirza claimed in his 19th-century book Raz-i-Haqiqat, that Jesus is buried at Rozabal Khanyar and was conveyed about it by Kashmir’s noted political worker Molvi Abdullah Vakil, who opposed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah over the conversion of Muslim Conference into National Conference. Mirza also stated the tomb prophet was also known to some as Yūz Āsif. Mirza reportedly based his claim over an ‘investigation report’ by his follower Mawlawī ‘Abd Allāh Sāhab Kashmīrī (Molvi Abdullah Vakil).Sensing grave error, Vakil, refuted Mirza’s claim saying that it is the result of his ‘speculation and conjecture’. Mukhtar is in possession of the manuscript of the pamphlet “Shola-e-Naer aur Maqbar-e-Khanyar’ where Vakil countered Mirza.“Christ theory is a lie perpetuated by Mirza. When his source Molvi Vaqil denied it, how can it be true,” Mukhtar questions.Read the full story here: Century-old debate brought shrine under spotlight for wrong reasons?What’s in a name?Many writers in the 1950s, took up the responsibly to refute the ‘Jesus theory’ through their writings, including 1950s, including Molvi Ghulam Nabi Nabi Mubaraki, one of valley’s top Islamic scholar and preacher.However, in his book Jesus in Kashmir, Kashmiri writer Fida Hasnain claims evidence that Christ is buried at Rozabal is mentioned Kashmir’s own history long before Mirza’s claim. “Yuzu Asif, the name of the saint buried here, is not Arabic name or Muslim name. It’s a Hebrew name and the prophet Jesus is buried there (Rozabal). He came to Kashmir after he faced problems there. How can we believe locals, we have to see history.Ghulam Ahmad Mirza’s claims predate our own history Tawareeq-e-Kashmir,” Hasnain said.The locals’ dilemmaFor locals, the shrine the sacred place has attracted attention for the wrong reasons. The younger locals feel some people, icluding tourist guides have turned the shrine into a commercial place to make a quick buck. In an effort to clear the myth, a young local named Mudasir said a notice board which quotes verses from the Quran and Bible to disprove that Christ was buried at the site, was installed by the community.