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T H E I N F O R M A L WAR

where Muslim religious anxieties were fuelled by the mobilizations in the south
and east. Torn by these competing stresses, Abdullah again turned towards the
independence option. In May 1953, he confided in the United States diplomat
Adlai Stevenson that he supported independence. That July he told the audience
at a public gathering that it was not necessary to be an appendage of either Ind
ia
or Pakistan.66 Meanwhile, Abdullah dragged his feet on implementing the Delhi
Agreement, provoking Nehru to bitterly complain that a settlement arrived at
between us should be by-passed or repudiated, regardless of the merits .67
Lurches of this kind fuelled the suspicions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India s
then Home Minister and the leading figure of the right-wing within the Congress
Party. Nehru and Patel had long differed over Kashmir policy; the Union Home
Minister had, in December 1947, even offered his resignation on the issue.
According to the then head of India s intelligence services B.N. Mullik, Patel on
one occasion warned that Sheikh Abdullah would ultimately let down India and
Jawaharlal Nehru and would come [out] in his real colours .68 There were feuds
over the appointment of Colonel Hasan Walia as the head of the Intelligence
Bureau station in Srinagar, with Abdullah arguing that the officer had been sent
to
spy on him, not Pakistani agents.69 Nehru defended Abdullah in several of these
battles, but as the Sher-i-Kashmir s pro-independence position grew stronger, it
became harder to do so. It is always painful to part company after long years of
comradeship , he said in the face of Abdullah s stalling of the Delhi Agreement,
but if our conscience so tells us, or in our view an overriding national interest
requires, there is no help for it .70
Nehru had served notice. On August 8, 1953, two of Sheikh Abdullah s most
trusted associates, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq,
staged a party coup which removed him from office. He was then jailed on charges
of endangering India s security. What had gone wrong? Not all accepted that the
stated reasons for Abdullah s incarceration were correct. Y.D. Gundevia, who
worked with Nehru, attributed the break to a powerful group in New Delhi who
wished to stall land reform. According to this theory, the group, with the backi
ng
of the Union Home Ministry used right wing propaganda, a whispering campaign
and political backbiting to bring about the coup.71 Abdullah himself attributed
his removal from office to the classes most hit by the land reform movement.
Our plan affected both Hindu and Muslim capitalists and zamindars [landlords]
equally , he told one interviewer, but the Hindus had direct lines to Delhi :
I was in turn called a British agent, a communist agent, and an American
agent. My enemies even undermined the loyalty that my associates had
had for me. I wanted to take action against these persons and asked
for the permission of Pandit Nehru to do so but instead of giving me
permission to prosecute them, he dismissed me and interned me.72
Any of these explanations for the breakdown of the relationship between Nehru
and Abdullah may indeed have been partially true. There was, however, another
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