Separatists on Thursday described the army's verdict against seven soldiers "a good beginning only if justice in other similar right abuse cases is delivered".
"We welcome it but the real test lies in the fact if justice is done in other cases such as Gaw Kadal and Hawal massacres that left more than 100 dead. It's good to make troops accountable," moderate Hurriyat spokesman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told the HT.
An advocate of creating conducive atmosphere in Kashmir by revoking laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), releasing political prisoners, ending human right abuses and withdrawing the army, Mirwaiz said: "It's too early to read any political message in it. We hope the army verdict does not have polls in mind. The government has to prove its seriousness".
This is the second major move by the army this month, facing a number of allegations, to take a moral high ground in conflict-ridden Kashmir.
Earlier, the army announced `10 lakh compensation to the families of two boys killed in firing in Budgam district on November 3 and admitted "it was a mistake".
Now, the life sentence to seven soldiers by a Court Martial in the fake Machil encounter in which three local boys were killed and dubbed as militants in north Kashmir has been welcomed by both faction of Hurriyat.
Meanwhile, hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani sees a "design" in the army move.
"The elections are round the corner. There is political design in this sudden army magnanimity. India was never serious in delivering justice in Kashmir. It should also deliver justice in hundreds of other such cases. The biggest justice is granting the right to self determination to people."
The Hurriyat factions see no political concession in the latest army moves to start an engagement with New Delhi.
"The real approach of the government of India towards Kashmir was clear when it stopped talking to Pakistan because we met its ambassador in Delhi. We don't expect much from this dispensation," said 84-year-old Geelani, who remains under house arrest most of the time.
Human rights champions reacted cautiously to the verdict. "There were similar verdicts by the Court Martial in the Kupwara and the Banihal rape cases. However, the punished soldiers were reinstated in the civil court. It needs to be seen that no legal loopholes are provided this time," said J-J Coalition of Civil Society coordinator Khurram Pervez.
He added, "This is a good move if the army says it is beginning to address all cases. Holding back the verdict since September smells of design to reap electoral gains."