Indian policemen hold shields as Kashmiri protester throw stones and pieces of bricks at them during an anti-India protest in Srinagar. — Photo by Reuters

SRINAGAR: A powerful militant group has admitted that one of its own members killed a veteran separatist in Indian-administered Kashmir, a report released Friday said.

Moulana Shoukat Ahmad Shah, a respected cleric and staunch pro-independence supporter, was assassinated on April 8 in a bomb blast in Srinagar, as he entered a mosque.

Militant groups had earlier blamed the daylight murder on Indian security agencies who they accused of seeking to “sabotage the freedom struggle of Kashmiris”.

But an “internal probe” by the anti-India militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba (LT) said that one of its own members, Javed Munshi, was responsible for the killing.

“At first instance, we thought Indian agencies and troops had martyred him (Shah) to weaken the (separatist) movement,” said the LT report, handed to senior Kashmir separatists by the group on Thursday.

“One thing we never thought was that our own (man) killed Moulana,” it said.

Munshi and his alleged accomplices have already been arrested by Indian police on charges of murdering Shah.

Separatist leaders from various Kashmiri groups, who had formed a panel to probe Shah's death, gave the LT report to the media on Friday.

It marked the first time since the start of the insurgency in 1989 that any militant group has released a report into the killing of a high-profile Kashmiri.

The report said Munshi believed that all Kashmir separatist leaders were working closely with Indian authorities and did not merit LT's support.

It also said Munshi was a “double agent” and suggested he had helped the Indian army in its separatist fight.

The report noted that Munshi had been freed from jail twice by the Indian police despite recovering deadly RDX explosives from him.

The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both nations.

The dispute triggered two of the three wars fought by the neighbours since independence from colonial rule in 1947.