Two weeks after attacks on telecom companies, militants have killed a supporter of the hardline Hurriyat Conference in Sopore on Tuesday.
According to a police spokesman, unidentified gunmen shot dead Altaf Ahmad Sheikh, son of Mohammad Yusuf. The victim was a senior Jamat-e-Islami district president and an aide of Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
He was a government employee working in the health department but has been on the police radar for some time.
"Altaf was arrested after attacks on telecom operators, but was later released after his involvement was ruled out,'' a source said.
Initial investigation, police say, points towards the militant organisation Lashkar-e-Islam. "The same group which carried out attacks on telecom companies is involved,'' said Javed Gillani, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range).
"It seems to be in retaliation against Geelani's statement condemning attacks on telecom companies as the deceased is his known supporter and worker,'' Gillani added.
According to reports, some local militant commanders were unhappy with the separatist leader's reaction to the attacks.
Geelani had condemned the attacks and announced that those involved in the killings were "enemies of the separatist cause."
The attacks were also condemned by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, apparently for creating a rift between the local militants and the leadership across the border.
While police had said the attacks on telecom companies were carried out by indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Islam was a front for the banned organisation, sources suggested a local militant commander Qayuum 'Najar', a resident of Sopore, was involved.
The group which was till recently unknown, had also accused separatist leader Geelani's workers of getting four militants killed in Sopore.
Justifying attacks on the telecommunication system, the outfit's spokesman said, "Due to telecommunication network, a lot of militants were killed, including two militants from Palhallan. Though Allah gave us ability to understand this nuisance (telecom network), the brothers who come from Pakistan for us are unaware. Laskhar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad were most affected due to this nuisance."
Meanwhile, Geelani has called for a complete shutdown in Baramulla on Wednesday against the killing.