Surendra Sai, the great freedom fighter in the first Indian struggle for independence in the 19th century, is the least known and yet one of the bravest and most valiant martyrs for the cause of independence of the country. It is a pity that his name has been omitted in many annals of this first war of independence of India.
Surendra Sai was born on January 23rd, 1809 in his ancestral home at Khinda in the district of Sambalpur. His father Dharam Singh was the sixth in the line of succession to Raja Madhukar Sai of Sambalpur.
Surendra Sai started his revolt against the British rule long before 1857 and continued his guerrilla war against the British authority from 1857 till 1864 long after the struggle led by the Rani of Jhansi, Tantia Tope, Kunwar Singh and others had subsided. Surendra Sai was a prisoner in British jail from 1840 to 1857 and then again from 1864 to 1884 being lodged in the final couple of decades of his life in Asirgarh jail, far away from the place of his birth. He was blind at the time of his death. Not merely he alone, but practically his whole family were valiant freedom fighters. His uncle Balram died in Hazaribagh jail after 16 years of jail life. His brother Chhabila was killed in an encounter with the British army. Another brother Ujjal was sent to the Raja Patnagarh to seek the latter’s help in the fight against the British, but the Raja betrayed Ujjal and surrendered him to the British and Ujjal was executed. His other brothers Udaut, Dhruba and Medini and his son Mitrabhanu were also among the freedom fighters.
As Per Wikipedia:
Veer Surendra Sai aka Veer Sundar 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 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 British and successfully protected most parts of Kosalregion for some time from the British rule. Most of them died unnoticed fighting for freedom from the British. Many of them were hanged by the British; a few died in the Cellular Jail in the Andamans. Surendar Sai himself died in Asirgarh Jail on 28 February 1884.
Citizens of Sambalpur region feels Surendar Sai, should have been recorded with greater importance in the history of India’s struggle for independence. According to them, he is yet to get the right place because of the state administration’s ignorance and carelessness. Even historians and research scholars also have been blamed. Many important documents and papers relating to Sundar Sai are said to be still existing at different archives in Bhopal, Nagpur and Raipur.