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Veer Surendra Sai

(1809 – 1884) – (Odisha)

Veer Surendra Sai (Aged 75) born on January 23, 1809, in Khinda, Sambalpur, Odisha, India, as one of the seven children of Dharma Singh. The family was part of the Sambalpur State ruling clan. He belonged to the branch initiated by Anirudha Sai son of Madhekara Sai, fourth king of Chauhan dynasty

However, the British authorities removed Rani Mohan Kumari from power and put Narayan Singh, a descendant of the royal family but born of a low caste, as the king of Sambalpur, ignoring Surendra Sai’s claim for succession. He fought against British rule in India after they dethroned the king and queen of Sambalpur State as he was the legal heir.

At the age of 18, in 1827, he began protesting against the British and was first arrested in 1840 and sent to Hazaribagh Jail. He was broken out of Hazaribagh prison by fighters during the 1857 rebellion.

Despite his surrender, the administrators found that the revolution did not come to an end. Sai and six of his followers were subsequently detained in the Asirgarh hill fort, where he spent the last part of his life in captivity. He moved his operations to the hilly tracts of Odisha and continued his resistance until his surrender in 1862. Before his surrender, he spent 17 years in prison at Hazaribagh and, after his final arrest, served a term of 20 years, including 19 years in detention in the remote Asirgarh hill fort until his death on May 23, 1884.

The people of the region affectionately called him Bira (or “Veer,” meaning courageous) Surendra Sai, as he was a very skilled swordsman.