To fight against the mighty British Empire, Indian revolutionaries always needed money. Even dedicated souls have stomach to fill. More money was usually needed for arms and ammunition which came from clandestine sources, exorbitantly expensive. At times they had to also monetarily help in the defence of comrades facing conspiracy cases like the Alipur Trial. There may have been one Chittaranjan Das to work gratis. Though public sympathy was enormous but that was not all. Hard cash was to be in their hands. Hence the need for a dacoity.
It was in such a background that a group of revolutionaries in Dhaka approached Pulin Das, the legendary Lathi player, and the undisputed leader of the Anushilian Party. With him as the guide, the conspiracy was hatched to raid the house of a notorious Zamindar in a village, called Barrah (in Dhaka District, presently the capital of Bangladesh). He was fabulously rich. Pulin Babu's plan was meticulous in every detail.
The morning of 2nd June 1908. The Govt. had raided the Maniktala Garden just a month earlier and arrested many, including Aurobindo Ghosh. It was slightly complacent but was suddenly shocked by the daring dacoity. It was something rare, for, it was by boat and spread over two days and two nights.
From Dhaka started two boats in the morning and picked up the passengers en-route, as arranged. There were 31 young men in all, expert in rowing country boats. The two boats were loaded with long range rifles, cartridges in plenty, swords, daggers and other indigenous weapons of East Bengal. Trunks full of pistols also came from Kolkata to Goalanda and were placed into the boats at various points. The precaution was taken to avoid police observation at Dhaka from where the boats originally started. By 8'O clock in the evening the boats reached Barrah, the destination, and the members spread themselves out as planned. Everyone occupied his allotted position. They surrounded the house, which was a pucca building and started showering bullets from all directions. It was pitch dark all round but they had carried some bottle-torches (a primitive edition of the modern torch with the battery).
The owners soon realised the seriousness of the situation and surrendered the keys of the iron-safe. Only those authorized to collect valuables got busy. Others strictly stuck to their respective positions. It was summer and not very late at night. The villagers were startled by the sound o f so many bullets at a time. They came out in numbers with whatever weapons they could muster. The dacoits disappeared under the cover of darkness. The boats in the river were not very far, only a quarter of a mile away. The revolutionaries rushed into them and started moving. However, they did not go in the direction of Dhaka, from where they had come. For, the police would be waiting for them there in full strength.
The boats changed their routes from big river to the small. It was summer night which is short and soon the morning sun dawned on the 3rd June, the second day of the venture. One of the boats was leaking due to police bullets. Gopal Sen, a young but intrepid soldier of the revolution went on throwing the water out of the bottom of the boat, unmindful of the surroundings. He became an easy victim of police firing. A bullet came and pierced through his head. He died uttering the two inspiring words; Bande Mataram. In the melee that followed, the eyes of some greedy villagers fell on the booty that the boat was carrying. It was tempting enough. At this stage the revolutionaries adopted a new technique. They called a few of them and offered Rs 25/- each. But when their eyes fell on the entire booty, they demanded more. But the revolutionaries threw them out of the boat and started a volley of firing on the greedy villagers, who ultimately disappeared. With the immediate danger over, they again entered a big river. When suddenly came the notorious northwest monsoon (Kaal Baisakhi) of East Bengal. It was a godsent. They fixed their masts and fitted the sails. It also changed the direction favorable to the wind. The storm helped the boat move at a terrific speed, almost running on the surface of the water. A journey of four hours could be covered in quarter of the time. They safely reached the jungle of Bhawal State (which later became famous during the Bhawal Sanyasi Case). No police, no pursuers, and also no food for two full days and nights. The most outstanding achievement was that the police could not trace any of the participants.
Much later, an important member of the Barrah Dacoity Episode who became member of the Legislative Assembly just reminisced; 'it was on board that I first heard the word Socialism. It was no scientific socialism of the Marxian type, but vague idealism of equality, looting the rich to feed the poor, on the lines of Bhavani Pathak of Anand Math or Robin Hood of English legend. Face to face with death all the time, of full two days, the word Socialism left an indelible impression." Later, and it is more or less a certainty, that the same person was invited to Delhi to address the Joint Session of the Parlaiment. India was independent. He came and did address the Parliament but never went back to East Bengal. He died and was buried on the soil of India for whose freedom he worked and died. To be fair to history and to posterity, we can mention his name today. He was Trailokyanath Chakravarti, better known as Maharaj, with a life full of revolutionary activities - A patriarch among revolutionaries.