Veer Surendra Sai
was an Indian freedom fighter who sacrificed his life fighting against the British and died in obscurity. Surendra Sai has a demi-god status in Western Orissa alias Kosal region. Surendar Sai and his associates Madho Singh, Kunjal Singh, Airi Singh, Bairi Sing, Uddant Sai, Ujjal Sai, Khageswar Dao, Salegram Bariha, Govind Singh, Pahar Singh, Rajee Ghasia, Kamal Singh, Hati Singh, Salik Ram Bariha, Loknath Panda/Gadtia, Mrutunjaya Panigrahi, Jagabandu Hota, Padmanave Guru, Trilochan Panigrahi and many others resisted the Britishers and successfully protected most parts of Kosal region for some time from the British rule. Most of them died unnoticed fighting for freedom from the Britishers. Many of them were hanged by the Britishers; a few died in the Cellular Jail in the Andamans. Surendar Sai himself died in Asirgarh Jail on 28 February 1884.
Veer Surendra's background:
Surendra Sai was born on 23 January 1809 in a Village called Bargaon (on the Dhama Road) in Khinda about 30 km (19 mi) to the north of a town called Sambalpur in the Kosal region. His father was Dharma Singh and he was one of seven children. Surendra Sai was a direct descendant from Madhukar Sai, the fourth Chauhan king of Sambalpur and therefore was eligible as a candidate to be crowned as king of Sambalpur after demise of King Maharaja Sai in 1827.
Veer Surendra's revolt for the throne :
King Maharaja Sai died without an heir. The British Government allowed his widow Rani Mohan Kumari to succeed him, as a result of which disturbance broke out and conflict increased between the recognised ruler and other claimants for the throne of Sambalpur. The most prominent claimant among them was Surendra Sai. In time Rani Mohan Kumari became unpopular. Her land revenue policy did not satisfy the Gondi people and Binjhaltribal zamindars and subjects. The British authorities removed Rani Mohan Kumari from power and put Narayan Singh, a descendant of royal family but born of a low caste, as the king of Sambalpur. The British Government ignored the claim of Surendra Sai for succession. Rebellion broke out in the regime of Narayan Singh. Surendra Sai and his close associates, the Gond zamindars, created many disturbances. In an encounter with the British troops Surendra Sai, his brother Udyanta Sai and his uncle Balaram Singh were captured and sent to the Hazaribagh Jail where Balaram Singh died. King Narayan Singh died in 1849. By virtue of the Doctrine of Lapse, Lord Dalhousie annexed Sambalpur in 1849, as Narayan Singh had no male successor to succeed him. During the uprising of 1857 the sepoys set Surendra Sai and his brother Udyant Sai free. The resistance to British continued in Sambalpur under the leadership of Surendar Sai. He was supported by his brothers, sons, relatives and some Zamindars.
Last days :
Sambalpur was brought under the jurisdiction of the newly created Central Provinces on 30 April 1862; Surendar Sai decided to surrender soon after that. However, he was said to have been disillusioned and the new setup indulged in reversal of the old liberal policy. The administrators found that the surrender of Surendar Sai did not bring the revolution to an end. They stepped down to organise a conspiracy and made sudden arrest of Surendar Sai and all his relations, friends and followers. Veer Surendar Sai and six of his followers were subsequently detained in the Asirgarh hill fort. Veer spent the last part of his life in captivity. In 1884 on 23 May, Surendar Sai died in the Asirgarh fort, away from his native land.
Sambalpur was one of the last patch of land to be occupied by the British Empire in India, not counting the Princely States. This was largely due to the effort of Surendra Sai. He was a very good swordsman. People of the region affectionately called him as Veer Surendra Sai. "Veer" in sambalpuri language means fearless. Later "Veer" became a part of his name and he has been referred as so in history books, not unlike