It was triggered by an old land dispute between the tribals and Mandal, police confirmed.
“A few years ago, the government settled the land in favour of the tribals. But its original owner won a case, got the land back and sold it to Mandal. But the tribals continued to claim its ownership,” said Purnia SP Kim.
The immediate provocation, she said, was Mandal’s move to use earth from the disputed land to cast bricks at his kiln.
On Saturday, the police arrested 33 persons. “They have confessed,” said the Purnia SP.
Another theory is that the tribals nursed a grouse against Mandal for marrying into their community just so he could take control of the panchayat.
“The decision to wed Chimo Devi came after the post of mukhia was declared reserved for a tribal candidate,” said an official, who did not want to be named.
With agency inputs