Former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Girish Chandra Saxena, whose tenure saw a significant decline of militancy in the Valley, died here this morning after a brief illness.
He was 90. Saxena breathed his last at 4.30 AM on Friday after he was rushed to a hospital following breathlessness, his brother and former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra said.
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.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and serving and retired officers from RAW and Intelligence Bureau also gathered at the crematorium to pay their last respects to Saxena.
Born in Agra in 1928, Saxena, an IPS officer of the 1950 batch of Uttar Pradesh cadre, who also headed the country’s external snooping agency RAW from 1983 to 1986, is survived by his wife and two daughters.
He first took the charge as the Jammu and Kashmir Governor on May 26, 1990, barely a few days after the religious head of Muslims in Srinagar Mirwaiz Malauvi Farooq was gunned down allegedly by militants of Hizbul Mujahideen.
He had succeeded Jagmohan, who quit owning moral responsibility for civilian killings which had taken place during the funeral procession of the Mirwaiz. Over 50 people had died during the alleged massacre by security forces.
Saxena continued as the Governor till March 13, 1993 during which his focus was on winning the trust of the locals.
He was credited with the revival of intelligence gathering mechanism of the state police. His experience at the RAW came in handy in discharging his duties from the Raj Bhavan.
After his first stint as the Governor, Saxena was again brought to the state in 1998. He was lauded for his efforts which turned the state police into an effective counter insurgency force.
“No militancy can be fought without the local police,” he had once said during his second stint as the Governor.
Chandra recalled that 10 days back his brother, while being wheeled of the 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,” he told PTI.
Former J&K chief ministers, the father-son duo Farooq and Omar Abdullah, while condoling his demise, said 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 said, “It’s a sad news for me. He (Saxena) had always guided me during my initial days in politics.”
After his retirement from the RAW in 1986, Saxena served as an advisor to the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi till January 1988.