There was a dire need of giving Army and Paramilitary forces a legal cover to operate against a surging insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990 as "administration was non-existent" in many parts of the state that time.
Former Governor G C Saxena, who had invoked the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for the whole of the Kashmir Valley and 20 km belt along the Line of Control in July 1990, told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview: “The need for the (invocation of DAA and AFSPA) was obvious.”
There was widespread insurgency and several incidents were taking place on a daily basis. They had to be given these powers to arrest, search and seize , as the administration was non-existent in many parts of the state”
Saxena, recalling those times said: “ There was no short-cut nor any alternative. These powers had to be given to the security forces.”
He had to invoke it because under the constitution of the State , he was vested with both legislative and executive powers during Governor’s rule. The state had come under Governor’s rule on January 19, 1990 , when Jagmohan took over as Governor for a second time and the Farooq Abdullah government had resigned in protest.
The state, as per the constitution remains under Governor’s rule for six months before, if the situation so demands, it comes under President’s rule.
Twenty years after the invocation of DAA and AFSPA, Saxena, who served twice as Governor of the state (May 1990 to March 1993, and then from May 1998 to June 2003) said the situation changes. The things don’t have to be rigid, it is not a necessity in perpetuity. Some provisions can be relaxed and it can be repealed, when near normalcy returns. Complete normalcy never returns.”
Saxena had landed in Kashmir in May 1990 , immediately after the assassination of the Valley’s chief cleric Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq , and firing by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on a crowd carrying the body of the religious leader at Hawal in which more than 50 people were killed and over 100 others wounded.
During his first tenure as Governor, he had stepped down in March 1993 after a carnage in Sopore in which 42 people were killed in retaliation by Border Security Force after two of the troopers were shot dead by militants and their weapons snatched .
Reflecting on the things that have changed during these two decades , the former Governor, who was RAW chief before his appointment as head of the state in Jammu and Kashmir said: "it should be constantly under review, as you cannot can not wish away reality on the ground.”
Saxena said that it was for the “psychological impact” when the AFSPA and DAA were extended to entire Jammu division in August 2001 after an attack on the railway station, Jammu and other incidents, including terrorist assault on Raghunath temple. ( the temple was twice attacked , March and November 2002).
He, however, noted that despite the most challenging situations, which included even the fidayeen attacks on the Indian army cantonments in Kashmir, the security forces never used the air power, not even heli-guns and artillery. It was always use of small arms.
This contrasts with what Pakistan has been doing in its frontier areas with Afghanistan where it has been going in for air bombardment and killing civilians by dozens.
He, however, said that the dictum should be "maximum restraint and minimum use of force” in dealing with situations.