Thank you, Sikhs

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WSN presents the story of how a former Dutch Foreign minister was saved by the Sikhs in Indonesia during the Second World War. The interview by Bhupinder Singh Holland is one of the series of such interviews conducted by him. This is a slice of history which will makes Sikh proud of their heritage.

Bernard Rudolf “Ben” Bot, a Dutch career diplomat of the Christian Democratic Appeal party rose to become the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Holland for 4 years from 2003 to 2007. I did not lose time to meet him as soon as I learnt that he was saved by Sikh soldiers in Indonesia during World War II.

Mr. Dolf Kruyt, living in Hoogeveen, Netherlands
rescued by the Sikhs in Indonesia WW2. Interview by Bhupinder Singh Holland at the National Monument of  World Wars, Dam Square, Amsterdam.

I present an interview with Mr Ben Bot to bring forward his acknowledgement of the Sikhs and to re-establish the humanitarian role played by the Sikhs during the World Wars.

This may come as a surprise to the Sikhs. I was amazed to learn during my interview that after Japan lost the second world war, opponents of the Japanese were placed in camps. Sikhs freed them from those camps. He (Mr Ben Bot) was merely 9 years old at the time. He was with the Sikh soldiers for 6 months, where he was well treated, received clean clothes and food. He praised the Sikhs very much as they were their liberators.

“I am always with the Sikhs” – Ricchard Ruldoph Ben Bolt, former Dutch Foreign Minister

It is pleasing to note that this Dutch diplomat acknowledged Sikhs as very nice, peaceful and hardworking people and that the Sikh values are very similar to Dutch values.

When I mentioned to him that in June 1984 Darbar Sahib -the Golden Temple was invaded by the Indian Army and that many innocent people were killed, he said that the Dutch government could not interfere with internal conflicts as that is the policy of the Dutch government, however he mentioned that he knew of the situation, he saw the pictures and he said that the Dutch government has the sympathy with the Sikhs. “I am always with the Sikhs” he proudly proclaimed.

Mrs E. Harwing, living in Amsterdam, representing BEGO, Netherlands which provides help to Indonesian victims of war  living in the Netherlands. Interview by Bhupinder Singh Holland at Gurdwara Maan Sarovar Sahib, Netherlands.

I started my work of chronicling the contribution, role and martyrdom of Sikhs in World War I and II nearly two decades back. Since then, I have written two volumes, which give names and other details of thousands of Sikhs who laid down their lives in wars, which was not their own.

With the tenacity of a Jew looking for Nazi criminals, I have toured cemeteries in more than 20 countries and met hundreds of people, interviewed many to unearth the role of our Sikh soldiers who came from Punjab to an unknown land.

Enjoy te tehte-a-tete with Mr Ben Bot, share and do send your feedback.

 

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