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Kamal Singh Dao

(Odisha)

Kamal Singh, the son of Balabhadra Singh Dao, who was the Gond Zamindar (landlord) of Lakhanpur locality in Bargarh district of Odisha, played a major role as one of the second-in-commands of Veer Surendra Sai during the Sambalpur uprising against the British. His brothers, Khageswar Singh and Neelambar Singh, also played important roles in the rebellion.

Kamal’s father, Balabhadra Singh, attained martyrdom in the early days of the rebellion. Kamal Singh and his brothers fortified the Debrigarh peak, which stands at a height of 2267 feet, along with its surrounding forest areas. Around 500 guerrilla fighters, expert in archery, defended the position while Surendra Sai led the revolt. Using this location as a base camp, Balabhadra Singh and Avadhut Singh attacked a British camp with around a hundred fighters, burning it to the ground.

When Surendra Sai broke out from Hazaribagh in July 1857, Kamal Singh and his brothers first took charge of the Debrigarh fortification, which again became the operational base for rebel activities. However, Kamal was treacherously killed while sleeping under a tree, while he was still in command of the rebels, even though Surendra Sai had already surrendered to the British. Kamal’s brother, Khageswar, died under British imprisonment in Asirgarh jail.