Maj General Pushpendra Singh retired close to 15 years ago as General Officer Commanding MPB&O Area (MP, Bihar & Orissa). He lives at ‘Harshabadpuri’ in Panchkula (Chandigarh). He was educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar and St Columba’s, New Delhi and graduated from NDA, Khadakvasla. He has a first-class M.Sc. from the Madras University. He has written numerous professional papers and articles.
A national-level horseman, he is also keen on wildlife and nature. These interests are reflected in the work. He also visited all the main battle-locales for maximum authenticity to the story.
In 2012 he teamed up with his artist-wife to publish “The Magic Degh” a book of short stories for children, which portray humanity’s universal ideals. The Hawk Hunters is the author’s first novel – based on historical events. Presently he is writing and pursuing his other hobbies.
What inspired you to start writing?
I have always been interested in conveying my ideas right from school-days.
What did you like to read when you were a boy?
Biggles (stories of a World War 2 ace pilot). Jim Corbett and PG Wodehouse.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
To draw your reader into the story such that he feels ‘part’ of the events and emotionally empathises with the characters portrayed.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
I read a lot of books on Sikh & Mughal History of the period and of Banda Singh Bahadur in particular.
I visited the sites of all the important battles described in the book – before modern ‘development’ destroyed their features. I took detailed notes of the terrain attributes (military view-point).
What motivated you to write the book “The Hawk Hunters”?
‘The Hawk Hunters’ was a story that hunted me down and just compelled me to give voice to it!
Over 30 years ago I was posted at the Line of Control near Hirni – where Lachman Dev shot a doe that was about to about to fawn. Struck with remorse he became a hermit and eventually settled at Nanded. In a later tenure I visited the birthplace of Lachman Dev’s (Banda Singh Bahadur) in Rajouri.
However, I could find no information on his actual strategy. I had learnt though, the sequence of his battles; where they took place and the outcomes of each encounter. Hence I decided to fictionalise the story where I could reconstruct the probable strategy of the opposing commanders and their thought processes.
Meanwhile I got busy with professional work and only a couple of years back found my notes of the battle-sites. Then I began to write.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “The Hawk Hunters”?
A Medieval Story with 21st Century Resonance
At the end of the 17th century, Aurangzeb unleashed a tornado of terror and torture in a drive to convert all of Hindustan to Islam. Guru Gobind Singh, then created the Khalsa (pure in precept and action) to be dauntless defenders of the Hindu and Sikh faiths and led the fight for their survival.
Amidst the battle against the Sikhs and Aurangzeb’s conversion drive, the Mughal Governor of Sirhind province snared, tortured and then executed Guru Gobind Singh’s two little sons – plumbing the depths of depravity and brutality. As the inferno of war for survival engulfed the Punjab, Shammi a poor Sikh peasant-warrior and Naaz, daughter of a renowned Muslim physician of Sirhind, fell hopelessly in love.
A few years later, as Guru Gobind Singh lay dying from an assassination bid at Nanded (present-day Maharashtra); he deputed Banda Singh Bahadur – a hermit – to lead the Sikh fight-back and free the Punjab from Mughal tyranny. Starting with just twenty soldiers this hermit moved over a thousand miles to Punjab and liberated present-day Indian Punjab and its adjoining state of Haryana – a territory the size of Austria. This little-known military feat is remarkable by any yardstick.
Shammi was inexorably drawn into the ferocious fight for freedom and through him ‘The Hawk Hunters’ recounts the momentous events and how a remarkable leader galvanised a brutalised citizenry and transformed them into invincible warriors. How did Banda Bahadur succeed in liberating the Sikh homeland? The novel strives to recreate the rival strategies of the antagonists.
Did Shammi succeed in winning his lady-love? ‘The Hawk Hunters’ tells the story in an authentic historical setting that evokes the fragrances and vistas of medieval Punjab. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed tale replete with exalting compassion; acts of great courage, nobility and supreme sacrifice. The story explores the conflicts of conscience that confront the protagonists and bares the maelstrom of human emotions they face. Without being judgmental, ‘The Hawk Hunters’ highlights the conflict between humanitarian ideals and cynical exploitation of terror and subjugation.
The Nuremberg War Crimes trials at the end of World War 2 established a benchmark for human rights and new civilisational norms in the twentieth century leading up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, in the twenty-first, ISIS has reverted to medieval savagery and magnified the horror exponentially with electronic media. Viewed in that context, the larger message of ‘The Hawk Hunters’ is of universal human values as opposed to barbaric cruelty and terror as State Policy.
Above all the book celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over ruthless brutality and personal tragedy.
Who are your favourite authors?
Wilbur Smith, Leon Uris, Daniel Silva.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
I wrote sporadically – but at least a page every day. When the creative juices are flowing it may be four to five or more hours. On an average, I would say about 2-3 hours daily.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Foremost, one has to persevere. Then get into the story till you actually emote with your characters. Use simple language.
Buy his book now: