Shaheed Zamindar Madho Singh

As I told previously in these 21 days of lockdown I'll share 21 blogs about some great personalities of Odisha.
So here is the eleventh day of lockdown and I'm sharing my eleventh writeup on Shaheed Zamindar Madho Singh. 
Veer Madhab Singh Bariha is known from British records as  Madho Singh. Madho Singh was born on 1786 to Zamindar Arjun Singh Bariha. His father made necessary arrangement to make Madho Singh proficient in the art of warfare.
He inherited the value of honesty and integrity from his predecessors. His indomitable 
courage, love of freedom made him a great revolutionary. Seeing his courage and capacity, his father handed over the zamindari of Ghens in his favour, which consisted of twenty small villages. Madho Singh had five sons. They
were Hati Singh, Kunjal Singh Bairi Singh, Airi Singh (Uday Singh) and Narayan Singh. His second son Kunjal Singh had got five villages as dowry.

Madho Singh was independent minded, who never desired to remain under the control of 
the Marathas and the British. He hated them for their exploitation of Indians. He hated the British 
as 'Bendra' (a low caste) and his feeling towards the British was echoed in those villages, which 
remained under his zamindari.

The reasons for which Madho Singh raised sword against the 
British are widely known. Firstly, the attitude of the British towards Veer Surendra Sai wounded 
the feeling and sentiment of Madho Singh. Because the lawful claim of Surendra Sai for the throne of 
Sambalpur was set aside by the British. 
The Sonakhan estate ruler Narayan Singh  was trying to feed his people by looting the food grains from a rich merchant who had denied helping the population suffering famine in the region. So he was arrested and shot dead at Raipur. 
Adding to the bitterness, the British helped the cunning Zamindar of Bijepur estate to acquire the Bhatibahal region against the wishes of Madho singh.  

The Ghess estate turned into a highly charged up center of nationalism and anti-British activities with strong sense of unity within the rebels. This revolutionary spirit spread to adjoining areas. Madho Singh and his four sons took charge of the Singoda pass. 

On 8.12.1857, Capt. E.G. wood left
Nagpur and reached Singoda Ghat after 19 days of strenous journey. There was a contest between 
Madho Singh and Capt. Wood. Many English Soldiers were laid to the dust and the captain escaped and saved his life. On 29.12.1857 he reached Sambalpur. The news spread terror in the camp of the British soldiers and they dared not to bring the Singoda and Nisha ghats to their control. On 30.12.1857 Cap. Dyer reached Sambalpur with British soldiers. He attacked the nearby Ghats of Sambalpur. He made a constant search of Udanta Sae. Both Capt. Wood and 
R.T. leigh unitedly attacked the rebels and followed Udaya Singh and proceeded upto Kudopali where Chhabila Sae was shot dead. The death of chhabila Sae shocked Surendra Sae. 
The incident made Madho Singh aggrieved. After that Madho Singh guarded the Singoda Ghat with 
great deal of care and seriousness.

British made sustained efforts to recover the Singoda Ghat. Capt. Wood Bridge and Capt.Wood were again sent for this purpose. They secretly learnt about the stay of Madho Singh in Paharsirgirah. The British had spread a rumor of the death of Hati Singh in his encounter with Shakespeare at Singoda Ghat. The British thought that it was the appropriate time to capture Madho Singh. They blocked the Paharsrigirah Ghat. But the attempts of Shakespeare ended in smoke when he was captured and beheaded by Madho Singh. His headless body was hanged on a tree. It was the incident of 12.02.1858. The incident terrified the men in the British camp in Sambalpur. The British did not dare to send soldiers any more to Paharsirgirah. However on 14.12.1858 Capt. Ensing Warlo proceeded to Singoda Ghat. He 
saw a ferocious scene on the top of the hill. Headless and naked corpses were seen hanging in the trees. Naked and headless body of captain Wood Bridge was also found among those of others. Warlo carried the body of Bridge with a horse and came back to Sambalpur. 

Madho Singh had already grown old and fatigue. His constant and relentless struggle with the British exerted an adverse effect on his health. He spent many days and sleepless nights in the jungle. He wanted rest and while going to Matia Bhatt, he was captured by 
the British. The zamindar was considered a close confidant of Veer Surendra Sai.He was captured and hanged on Dec 31, 1858 at the Jail Chowk in Sambalpur.

In 1993, the then chief minister Biju Patnaik inaugurated a memorial pillar at Ghess. The government declared December 31 to be observed as 'Birta Divas' in honour of Madho Singh and his family in 1997.

The heroic sacrifice of Madho Singh and his family was not only sensational but an unforgettable chapter in the history of Indian freedom struggle.

References :
  • Odisha Review
  • Times of India
  • Wikipedia