The killing of a civilian and injuring two others by suspected militants in north Kashmir's Sopore area on Tuesday triggered a public outrage with human rights groups asking the United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of militant groups operating in the Valley, to come clean on the incident.
"It becomes incumbent on the UJC to establish who are behind this particular attack on non-combatants. If it is proved that the men responsible for Monday's attacks are from the armed groups, then certainly UJC has the moral responsibility of holding the accused accountable," said Srinagar's leading right group Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) coordinator Khurram Pervez.
Two militants barged into a BSNL office in Sopore, 55 km from Srinagar, on Monday and opened fire at three franchise employees identified as Muhammad Rafiq, a resident of Handwara, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, a resdient of Noor Bagh Sopore and Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, a resident of Achabal Sopore. Rafiq later succumbed to his injuries at a Srinagar hospital.
Suspected militants have launched an onslaught on mobile services in the area. Threats have been issued to close down offices of all the mobile service providers. The security forces have failed to establish the militant group behind the move.
"So far it is unclear who is behind this attack. In the last 25 years of insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, many civilians have been targeted. In almost all the attacks on civilians, the police have failed to conduct credible investigations to hold the killers accountable," said Pervez.
The killing also attracted condemnation from writers and social activists.
"We should not shy away from condemning these anti-people activities which are engineered and executed by individuals, agencies and outfits with the sole motive of defaming the people's movement. They should be unmasked and brought to justice," said Dr Altaf Hussian, known paediatrician of the Valley.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani described the attack as "terrorism." "It is purely a terrorist act and whoever is involved in this is the enemy of Islam and humanity and he wants to defame the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri nation," said Geelani, also a resident of Sopore.
Suspected militants have raised ante against mobile service providers, blaming their proliferation for neutralisation of militants.
Sopore, a bastion of Geelani, has remained a militant hotbed in the past.