Former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Girish Chandra Saxena, lovingly called Gary, died in New Delhi today after a brief illness, his family said.
He was 90.
Saxena’s brother Naresh Chandra, former Cabinet Secretary and Ambassador to the US, said he was rushed to a hospital in the wee hours after he complained of breathlessness.
He was declared dead at 4:30 AM, Chandra said. He was born in Agra in 1928 and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
The J&K Government has declared 3-days mourning in the State to pay homage to Saxena. During the mourning, National and State flags will fly half mast on all buildings and places while there will be no official entertainment and function. The mourning will be observed from April 14 to 17.
Saxena, who also headed country’s external intelligence agency RAW, took charge as the Jammu and Kashmir Governor for the first time on May 26, 1990 and continued in the post till March 13, 1993. He was re-appointed in 1998.
An IPS officer of the 1950-batch of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Saxena had the most successful tenure as Governor of J&K and was credited with the revival of State polices’ intelligence mechanism, where he used his experience of heading the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).
He was RAW Director between 1983-86.
Saxena came to J&K at a time when the entire Kashmir Valley was facing a turmoil following killing of Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq by militants of terror group Hizbul Mujahidden.
During the Mirwaiz’s funeral, the mob went on rampage and security forces had to open fire in downtown Srinagar to control the situation. Nearly 25 people were killed.
After his first stint as the Governor, Saxena was again brought to the State in 1998 during which his focus was on the revival of local intelligence and the State police which was not on the forefront of counter-insurgency operations then.
“No militancy can be fought without the local police,” he had said when he was the Governor in the second term.
Chandra recalled that 10 days back his brother, while being wheeled out from Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private hospital, had held the hand of the doctor and said “I don’t have any stress other than the happenings in Jammu and Kashmir.
“He was deeply committed, even at this age, about the developments and happenings in Jammu and Kashmir,” Chandra said.
During his first term as Governor, as head of the Unified Command, he led nation’s first response to Pakistan sponsored terrorism by strengthening and involving local police to play their mandated role shoulder to shoulder with Army and paramilitary forces. He rightly believed that local police is best equipped to collect information and operate.
During his second term the State had an elected Government but on security matters his word counted. Despite Pakistan’s Kargil misadventure, induction of large number of foreign terrorists and suicide attacks, the security forces successfully met the challenge and from 2001 incidents of terrorist violence began registering a downward trend. A credible and largely peaceful Assembly elections in 2002 further contributed to the peace process.
The funeral pyre of Saxena, who served as the Governor of the troubled state twice, was lit by his grandson Varun in the presence of political leaders and senior bureaucrats, including National Security Advisor A K Doval.
Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra has expressed grief over the demise of Saxena.
In a message of condolence, the Governor conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved family and prayed for the peace to the departed soul.
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has also condoled the demise of former Saxena.
In her condolence message, the Chief Minister described late Saxena as an able administrator who left an indelible mark in the State during his gubernatorial assignments.
Mehbooba Mufti has conveyed her personal condolences to the bereaved family of Mr. Saxena, particularly his wife and two daughters.
Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh has also condoled the demise of Saxena and described him as an able administrator.
Former J&K Chief Ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah condoled his death saying that in his departure, a visionary has been lost.
“I recall my association with Governor Saxena. He was very cool in extreme situations and always had a humane approach to any problem,” Farooq said.
Omar, who became a Member of Parliament in 1998 and 1999, said, “It’s a sad news for me. He (Saxena) had always guided me during my initial days in politics.”