The Hawk Hunters

By Pushpendra Singh

“High on the Imamgarh battlements, Jalal-ud-Din, Mughal Commander of Samana Fort, was hauled by Khalsa soldiers to the massive cannon and lashed to its muzzle. His insolent glare dissolved into dread at the order ‘Fire!’ His eyes dilated – white pupils starkly visible for an instant. Then he was blown to smithereens.

This was the first assault against the tyranny of foreign invaders in over five centuries. As the cannons blew the condemned criminals to oblivion, their roar thundered in Wazir Khan’s council chamber and reverberated thoughout Muzzam’s Mughal Empire.

Several years earlier, Wazir Khan, the Mughal Governor of Sirhind, had snared and then brutally executed Guru Govind Singh’s two young sons, sending a shock-wave of revulsion that ignited a raging inferno in the Punjab.

The Guru had commanded Banda Bahadur to liberate the Punjab from the Mughals’ tyrannical yoke. Banda set out from Nanded with only twenty-five soldiers, but as he entered Punjab, thousands thronged to rally the Nishan Sahib. Banda Bahadur hurled these unstrained Punjabi volunteers against Wazir Khan’s powerful army.

Among them was Shamsheer, a Sikh peasant-warrior, who too threw himself whole-heartedly into the fierce struggle for freedom; going on to become a celebrated Cavalry Commander of the Khalsa Army. Amidst the strife and turmoil Shamsheer and a young Muslim noblewoman from Sirhind fell deeply, helplessly in love.

Would he succeed in winning her hand? Would Banda Bahadur’s raw, ill-equipped sparrows be able to hunt down the mighty Mughal hawk?

‘The Hawk Hunters’ tells their story in this fast-paced, action-packed saga of great courage, nobility and supreme sacrifice.

Above all, it is a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit over ruthless brutality and personal tragedy.

Pushpendra Singh
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Maj General Pushpendra Singh is a retired Army officer who lives at 'Harshabadpuri' in Panchkula (Chandigarh). He was educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar and St Columba's, New Delhi and has a M.Sc. from the Madras University. A national- level horseman, he is also keen on wildlife. He is married with children and three grand-children. In 2012 he teamed up with his artist-wife to publish "The Magic Degh" (KW Publishers, Delhi) a book of short stories for children. During one of his tenures in J & K he happened to visit the birthplace of Banda Singh Bahadur in Rajouri. Fascinated with this hermit's success in liberating most of present Punjab and Haryana from the Mughals, he decided to delve deeper into this brilliant military feat which "The Hawk Hunters" portrays.