We found ourselves in a tough predicament. For some reason, we felt like these men were innocent of the charges but who were we to argue with a bunch of army personel carrying assault rifles. We asked the man in charge if we could have a few minutes to discuss things amongst ourselves. He begrudgingly agreed.

As we talked it out, we realized that the fate that lay ahead for these men was not good. Best case scenario is that they would be arrested and would never have anyone represent them, if they even got to have a trial. More than likely, they would never even reach prison. Why we felt so connected to these men was beyond our reach as well. We know that they took good care of us along the way and fed us well, even though they didn't have to. But how did we know they were innocent? If we left these men, they would probably die. So, colectively we decided to not leave without our friends. Feeling a bit nervous about what our fate would be, we approached the man in charge not as four travelers but one group fighting for two human's rights.

Army man:"So, did you figure out whatever it was you needed to figure out?" he queried a bit impatiently. He was obviously irritated that we put his order on hold to discuss matters....

photo(c) TwoFeathers 1999
~Lotus root is a common dish served in Kashmir. Here, some local women gather boatfulls to sell at market in the morning~