In a shocking incident reminiscent of the ‘Bhagalpur blindings’ of the late 1970s, a mob poured acid into the eyes of two persons, including a history-sheeter, in Bihar’s Araria district. The incident took place on Sunday morning at Hinga village ahead of a panchayat meeting. The police have arrested Kapil Mandal, Panchanand Mandal and Ramnath Mandal, all brothers, for allegedly pouring acid on Munna Thakur and his brother Kanhaiya Thakur.

“It is difficult to restore Kanhaiya’s eyesight, but Munna’s eyes could be healed,” Superintendent of Police in-charge Manoj Kumar told The Hindu on the phone.

The attack, Mr. Kumar said, was a result of continuing animosity between the Thakur brothers and the Mandals.

The wives of Munna and Panchanand, who contested a by-election for mukhiya were defeated. A Muslim woman, whose relative was the previous mukhiya, won. The Thakurs suspected that the Mandals had given the Muslim woman tacit support.

“There was constant brush between the two on this issue. Munna recently came out of jail in a bank dacoity case. He was a hated person in the village. Prior to the acid attack, he had opened fire on Kapil in his house and abused him. The sarpanch decided to broker a peace between the warring parties, and a panchayat meeting was convened. When a group of persons including Kapil, Panchanand and Ramnath Mandal approached Munna, asking him to attend the meeting, he opened fire at it. But they nabbed him. They first put sand in his eyes and then poured acid. His brother was also similarly attacked with acid,” Mr. Kumar said.

Panchanand handed over to the police a country-made revolver and some cartridges including one round of AK 47 ammunition recovered from Munna’s house.

The police said the assailants had used the acid kept in car batteries.

Munna has half a dozen cases filed against him. The police are verifying whether his brother too had criminal antecedents.