WAQI’ Ā-I-JAṄG-SIKKHĀṄ, by Dīwān Ajudhiā Parshād, is a chronicle in Persian prose of the events of the first Anglo-Sikh war (1845-46). The narratives of the battles of Pherūshāhr and Sabhrāoṅ have in fact been taken from two separate manuscripts.
The work was translated into English by V.S. Sūrī and published under the title Waqi'ā-i-Jaṅg-i-Sikkhāṅ, was first published in the journal of the Pañjāb University Historical Society, vol. VIII, April 1944, Lahore, and later reproduced in The Panjab Past and Present, Punjabi University, Paṭiālā, vol. XVIII, April 1984. A copy of the Persian manuscript is preserved at the Khālsā College, Amritsar. Dīwān Ajudhiā Parshād (d.1870) had served the Sikh State both as soldier and civilian since the days of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. Though the author has not recorded the date, it is evident from internal evidence that the book came to be written soon after the actual happenings-sometime in 1846. As, he himself tells us, his account of Pherūshahr and Sabhrāoṅ battles was mainly based on his personal knowledge and on reports of notable persons who were present at the scene of action. In contrast to the style of chronicles in Persian, the text is free from literary or dedicatory embellishments.
In the account of the battle of Pherūshahr, the writer records that on receipt of news of the British East India Company strengthening the frontier with additional troops, the Sikh soldiers apprehended danger. They also suspected that those at the helm of affairs at Lahore were in league with the British. Their chosen leaders decided, against the advice and warning of their officers, to cross the Sutlej and attack the British cantonment of Fīrozpur. Three brigades of the Fauj-i-Khās were ferried across on 14 and 15 December 1945. They were followed by other regular and irregular troops. On 18 December, it was learnt that the British Governor-General was advancing with large reinforcements by way of Mudkī to Fīrozpur. It was, therefore, decided that the Fauj-i-Khās and others who had already crossed the river should straightway advance to Pherūshahr and Mudkī while the Commander-in-Chief Tej Siṅgh with the remaining force still on their way to cross would stay at Pherūshahr for the purpose of attacking Fīrozpur. The British met the Sikh advance a few kilometres north of Mudkī. "The Sikhs opened fire first and the British guns replied. Some riderless horses from a British regiment opposite the Sikh cavalry got out of control and galloped into the Sikh lines killing some of the Sikhs but the others fired thinking that British cavalry were charging [at] them. In the confusion which followed they fell into panic and fled firing in all directions. In reply the British sent over shells of various kinds...When night fell, the British troops still held their ground. The Sikhs retired from the field abandoning some of their guns and withdrew to Pherūshahr."
The battle at Pherūshahr took place on 21 and 22 December 1845. Tej Siṅgh who was bringing reinforcements had not yet reached Pherūshahr when the British attacked this position with artillery. Tej Siṅgh found the following morning that the Sikhs had already been defeated and dispersed. "An artillery battle from a distance ensued between the guns attached to the British cavalry and Sardār Tej Siṅgh's brigade," after which these troops also withdrew and recrossing the Sutlej went towards Sabhrāoṅ.
The battle of Sabhrāoṅ was also fought at the insistence of the soldiery and against the advice of officers and Sardārs who had counselled, "...there was some chance of placating the British government from this side of the Sutlej. It would not be surprising, since the British government was the paramount power, if the Governor-General, knowing that the Punjab was the home of the Sikhs, and learning the true state of affairs from reliable reports should hear and accept their apology." Instead, writes the author, "the Siṅghs deputed by the various brigades of the army met on the bank of the river and discussed what the officers had told them and their own ambitions and plans." Tej Siṅgh had also opened negotiations with the British. A bridge of boats was constructed and the Sikhs crossing the river opposite Sabhrāoṅ established a bridgehead with a big breastwork of sand and mud and a trench dug around it. On 10 February 1846, a little before dawn, the British opened the attack with artillery fire followed by advance by their main force. "The British guns wrought havoc among the ghoṛchaṛhas and the infantry, sowars, howitzers and guns which were with the ghoṛchaṛhas in the morchā. It was said that the howitzers fired only one round and then their crews fled, but the ghoṛchaṛhas stood their ground for some time. Ultimately they too turned and fled from the battlefield, but most of them were killed or wounded....Wounded or unwounded they fell back towards the river, many towards the bridge, which became crowded with fugitives and gave way...The Sikh troops under the command of Sardār Shām Siṅgh continued the fight as long as they could, but even they could not withstand the onslaught of the British troops and all suffered defeat." In the list of Ḍerās appended to the manuscript Sardār Shām Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā has been shown as a cavalry officer in the Fauj-i-Ghair-Ā' īn, i.e. irregular army.
The account given by Ajudhiā Parshād is clearly pro-British. While he writes approvingly that "on that day the truth had been revealed, the strength and valour of the British army had been proved," there is not a single word in the manuscript about the matchless bravery of the Sikh soldiers or about the shameless betrayal by their commanders, the facts appreciatively noticed even by contemporary British writers. Nor does he account for the utter inefficiency and cowardice of the officers in facing and controlling the men placed under their command.