Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has called an emergency meeting of his top security aides for today after unidentified gunmen, suspected to be Islamic militants, killed 24 Hindus in a remote village in Kashmir on Sunday night. The massacre came just hours after a prominent Kashmiri Muslim insurgent leader who favoured dialogue with New Delhi was assassinated in another part of the troubled Himalayan province. Abdul Majid Dar, a commander with the Hizbul Mujahedin, was shot and killed by two intruders when he visited his family home in northern Kashmir. A little-known separatist group, Al Nasireen, said it had assassinated Dar for his 'anti-movement activities'. Sunday's dramatic incidents were a clear sign that after a three-month lull, Pakistan-based Islamic groups are determined to revive their armed campaign to separate Muslim-majority Kashmir from India. The renewed violence comes as a major setback to Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's efforts to deal with the separatist insurgency by applying a 'healing touch'. After coming to power last October Mr Sayeed, who heads a regional Kashmiri political group, released jailed separatists, disbanded a dreaded anti-insurgent police unit accused of brutality and lobbied New Delhi to appoint a negotiator for talks with Kashmiri Muslim leaders. Mr Sayeed also recently launched an ambitious plan to bring back thousands of Hindus who had fled the Muslim-dominated Srinagar Valley after the insurgency began in 1989. About 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, live as refugees either in Jammu, the state's winter capital, or in New Delhi. Others continue to stay in remote villages in the hills separating the Hindu-majority Jammu region from the Srinagar Valley to the north. Nandimarg, the village where 24 innocent Hindus - 11 men, 11 women and two children - were brutally killed on Sunday night by 15 armed men disguised as Indian soldiers, is in this region. Eight Muslim policemen who were supposed to be guarding the village were spared by the killers - only their rifles were taken away. 'The killings are a deliberate reaction to the government's plan to resettle Hindus,' said Ajay Churangoo, a Kashmiri Pandit leader. 'It's a conspiracy to drive the remaining Pandits from the state.' But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), clearly intent on shoring up its Hindu nationalist support ahead of crucial assembly elections in major Indian states later this year, was quick to put the blame on its main rival and Mr Sayeed's coalition partner, the Congress party. 'Where is the question of a 'healing touch' with terrorists?' asked BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra. 'The Congress party's softness towards terrorists is responsible for the massacre.' There is little doubt in New Delhi that Islamic groups based in Pakistan are behind the massacre. Though the massacre of innocent Hindus was more horrific, Dar's murder is seen in Srinagar as a more significant setback to the bedevilled peace process. 'It is a tragedy that all those who think and understand are being mercilessly killed,' said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a leader of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference.