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A Tribute to Veer Surendra Sai

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By Himanshu Guru: Today is the 204th birth anniversary of Veer Surendra Sai, the great freedom fighter from Sambalpur, who fought against the British regime till the end of his life. Sai will always be in the hearts of people of Odisha for his heroic sacrifices.

In the nineteenth century, when the whole of India was blazing under the tyrannical administration of the then colonial rulers from England, Surendra Sai took birth at Khinda, in Bargaon of Sambalpur on 23rd January 1809.  He was the unchallenged and unalienable enemy of the British regime and protested against injustice of the Britishers in the Sambalpur region.

Old people of Sambalpur say one of his close aides was responsible for his arrest; otherwise Veer (Valiant) was such a big warrior whom nobody could defeat, not even the Britishers.

Surendra Sai has been epithet as veer for his valor. Why? One of the big reasons was, he had fought with the Britishers several time and achieved success only with guerilla tactics and with the help of swords and other such type manual weapons. On the other hand, the Britishers were well equipped with the modern weapons like guns, grenades (called Toop then) and other latest weapons of that time.

Sai could not permanently made the Britishers to leave the country during his lifetime but his heroic efforts brought terrible fire to the freedom fighters in the area, which finally took shape and the Colonial rule was ended in India in 1947.

Surendra Sai was the person to be crowned as the King of Sambalpur as per genealogy. But the Britishers shakes hands with someone else for their own interest and the genuine prince had to become a rebel. His father was Dharma Singh. He was a direct descendant from Madhukar Sai, the fourth Chauhan king of Sambalpur.

But after demise of King Maharaja Sai in 1827, Rani Mohan Kumari, the King’s widow was appointed by the Britishers to take over the Kingship of Sambalpur and it was the event for rise of Surendra Sai as a rebel against the Britishers. His top associates were Madho Singh, Kunjal Singh, Airi Singh, Bairi Sing, Uddant Sai, and Ujjal Sai.

In an encounter with the British troops Surendra Sai, his brother Udyanta Sai and his uncle Balaram Singh were arrested and sent to the Hazaribagh Jail of today’s Jharkhand. In 1849 the British regime completely captured administration of Sambalpur through Doctrine of Lapse. However, during the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 Surendra managed to make him free and again took over the revolution against the British in Sambalpur along with his brothers, relatives and some Zamindars.

By the end of 1858 the British were able to take hold of the whole country except Sambalpur, where Surendra Sai was incessantly holding the freedom move violently. Hence, now it was time for the Britishers to nab the revolt of Sambalpur, raised by Veer Surendra sai. Generals Major Forster, Capt. L. Smith and others, the top British rebel suppressors in the then India were brought to Sambalpur to quiet Sai. But they failed and in 1861 Major Impey was put in charge, who cunningly made sai to surrender. Accordingly, sai surrendered but after the death of Impey, Sai again was recognized as an enemy of British.

Surendra Sai breathed his last on 23rd May 1884 in Asurgarh Hill Fort as a prisoner of the Britishers. Veer Surendra Sai was an able fighter, a very good swordsman and an outstanding leader.

‘The News Insight’ team pays rich tribute to Veer Surendra Sai on his birth anniversary.

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