On This Day

The Day Aung San Left for India to Discuss Anti-Colonialism

By Wei Yan Aung 12 March 2021

On this day in 1940, Ko Aung San, in his capacity as the general secretary of Doh Bamar Asiayone (We Burmans Association) which promoted nationalism and anti-colonialism in Myanmar (then Burma), left for India to discuss the independence struggle.

The five-member Doh Bamar Asiayone delegation led by the future independence hero attended an assembly of the Indian National Congress in Ramgarh in present-day Jharkhand. Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who would later become the first foreign minister of Pakistan and its permanent representative to the United Nations, interpreted for the Burmese delegation.

During his trip, the 25-year-old Ko Aung San spent most of his time with Jawaharlal Nehru, the president of the Indian National Congress, discussing a variety of issues from student policies to the peasantry, workers, women’s rights and social affairs. However, Abdul Ghaffār Khān, nicknamed the Frontier Gandhi – who wanted to take up arms against British colonial rule in India – attracted Ko Aung San’s admiration in particular.

Ko Aung San asked him details about plans for an armed struggle. The future general had formed an underground revolutionary group to take up arms against the British around four months before he visited India.

He argued that Indian independence could not be achieved without bloodshed. The Burmese delegation visited 12 cities in Indian during their 1½-month visit. A year later, Ko Aung San was undergoing military training on the Chinese island of Hainan with the Japanese occupation forces.

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